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Published: Thursday, 6/30/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Toledo growth shows promise

City ranks 55th in U.S. for construction job gains

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
An AutoZone Inc. parts store under construction on Alexis Road west of Hageman Road in North Toledo is part of the rise in construction jobs cited by the Associated General Contractors of America. An AutoZone Inc. parts store under construction on Alexis Road west of Hageman Road in North Toledo is part of the rise in construction jobs cited by the Associated General Contractors of America.
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After a prolonged and painful slowdown, metro Toledo is adding construction jobs once again, and is now ranked 55th nationally among 337 metro areas nationwide in the percentage of construction jobs added over the last year, according to a new report by the Associated General Contractors of America.

The report, released this week, shows the four-county metro region added an estimated 600 jobs in the construction, mining, and logging industries between May, 2010, and May, 2011, with total employment in the sector rising from 11,100 jobs to 11,700 jobs, or 5 percent, over the period. The report uses data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By comparison, the metro area ranked 65th nationally in April, and 61st nationally a year ago for changes in construction employment from the preceding 12 month period.

Still, the number of construction jobs in metro Toledo remains well below where it was prior to 2010, and off 34 percent from the estimated 16,800 jobs in that sector of the economy a decade ago.

"Things are looking up finally," said Joe Cousino, president of the Northwest Ohio Building Trades Council and business agent for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 8 in Rossford. "Our numbers went from having 30 to 35 percent unemployed at the beginning of the year down to closer to 20 to 25 percent."

Across the nation, the contractors' association said construction employment increased in 120 of the 337 metro areas included in federal employment data, declined in 162 metro areas, and stayed level in 55 metro areas over the last year.

"While construction employment has stopped plunging, any sign of a recovery remains spotty at best," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "The close-to-even split between areas adding and losing jobs is a reminder that for every market doing well, there is another market that is still hurting."

Metropolitan Dallas showed the largest gross number of construction jobs added in the previous 12 months at 5,600, or 5 percent.

Metropolitan Atlanta and Las Vegas lost the greatest numbers of construction jobs over the last year at 7,400 each, followed by New York City, with a loss of 6,700 construction jobs.

Mr. Cousio said that locally, those in the construction trades are seeing work return unevenly.

Construction of single-family residential lags multifamily projects, and some of the trades -- pipefitters and boilermakers, for example -- are still waiting for upcoming industrial projects to begin before they'll see their employment opportunities increase.

"The biggest job has been the casino, but the industrial base seems to be picking up. The refineries are about to start their shutdown, and Davis-Besse has a shutdown coming up as well. So those should provide some work," he said.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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