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Seattle area leads nation in construction comeback

Ongoing construction at KeyArena. (Michael Simeona, KIRO Radio)

The Seattle metropolitan area is leading the nation in the construction comeback.

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According to new data from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA), total construction job employment is up 5% in the past year combined across Seattle, Bellevue, and Everett, the most of any region in the country.

The Seattle metro area added roughly 5,300 total construction jobs over the last 12 months. Just 29% of 358 major metropolitan regions added any such jobs over that period, “while construction employment was stagnant in 51 metro areas,” according to the AGCA.

Statewide, Washington saw a 2% increase in construction jobs. The Tacoma-Lakewood region also saw a 4% bump over the last year in jobs added.

Another 71% of cities have seen cuts in construction jobs over the last year, thanks to increases in building material costs brought on by the pandemic. That has significantly hampered efforts to start or complete projects across the U.S.

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“Nearly twice as many metros have lost construction jobs as gained them in the past 12 months, even though homebuilding has recovered strongly and the overall economy is in much better shape than it was a year ago,” AGCA Chief Economist Ken Simonson said in a written release.

In order to mitigate against that, construction firms have been calling on the federal government to “ease tariffs on key construction materials — including steel and lumber — to address materials prices and to boost investments in infrastructure.”

“Construction employment is not going to rebound in many parts of the country while firms are struggling to afford the materials they need to complete existing projects,” AGCA CEO Stephen Sandherr noted.

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