HONOLULU WAS THE THIRD FASTEST GROWING CONSTRUCTION JOB MARKET IN THE COUNTRY BETWEEN APRIL 2015 AND 2016 AS RAIL, COMMERCIAL PROJECTS BOOST DEMAND
Honolulu Metro Area Hits All-Time April Construction Employment High as Employers add 5,000 New Jobs,
But Federal Transportation Funding “Gridlock” Threatens Local Construction Jobs, Construction Official Warns
News Release from Associated General Contractors of America, June 1, 2016
The Honolulu metro area was the third fastest growing construction job market during the past 12 months as employment in the local industry hit an all-time April high, according to an analysis released by the Associated General Contractors of America today. However, those job gains are at risk amid Congressional delays in passing key federal airport and port measures and figuring out how to pay for future highway and transit programs, association officials warned.
“Thanks to new projects like the light rail and commercial projects that are being built in anticipation of the new line, this area is now one of the fastest growing construction job markets in the country,” said Brian Turmail, the national spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America. “Yet without needed new federal transportation investments, Honolulu and many other metro areas are at risk of losing those new construction jobs.”
Turmail noted that the Honolulu metro area added 5,000 new construction jobs between April 2015 and April 2016, a 20 percent increase. He added that, out of the 358 metro areas the association tracks, only 2 metro areas added construction jobs at a faster rate. There are 29,400 people working in construction in the Honolulu metro area today, up from 24,400 a year ago. The association spokesman added that local construction employment in the area is at the highest April level ever recorded.
The recent increases in construction employment in Honolulu represent a significant change from a years-long construction downturn earlier this decade that eliminated nearly one out of every five construction jobs that existed in the area between April 2008 and April 2010, a loss of 5,100 jobs. He added that 25 percent of the construction jobs that existed through Hawaii in 2008 had disappeared by April 2011.
The construction official said that Honolulu was not the only metro area adding construction jobs. Nationwide, 235 out of 358 metro areas added new construction jobs between April 2015 and April 2016, including the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina area. But he cautioned that 67 metro areas lost construction jobs during the same time period while employment levels were stagnant in another 56 areas. Turmail cautioned that local increase in construction employment could be undermined if Congress fails to pass a new legislation to fund airport and port repairs or to pay for long-term highway and transit investments. He noted that a Senate-passed federal aviation bill that includes a $400 million increase to an airport improvement program that is needed to finance security and terminal improvements at Honolulu’s airport is stalled in the House.
He added that Congress is continuing to debate a water resources bill that would provide needed investments for ports that are crucial to trade and tourism in Hawaii. And the association official added that Congress will neither be able to maintain current, inadequate, funding levels for the nation’s aging highways and transit systems nor raise it to levels most experts say are needed, without a new funding mechanism in place
“If Congress can pass and fund vital new transportation measures than even more metro areas are likely to see their construction employment levels top pre-recession peaks,” Turmail noted. “As unique as Honolulu is, we don’t want this city to stand alone when it comes to creating construction jobs.”