The Columbia area is down 500 construction jobs since April 2014, a Washington, D.C.-based builders trade group said Tuesday, stopping short of blaming the losses on the General Assembly or Congress for failing to vote to fix decrepit roads and bridges, which would put more workers back on payrolls.
In a State House news conference, the Associated General Contractors of America said the Columbia metropolitan area lost 3 percent or the nation’s 10th highest number of construction jobs over the one-year period April 2014 to April 2015.
“Typically, what happens when you see a metro area go on the top list, it’s because of a big project, like say a hospital or a university construction project that wrapped up somewhere between April 2014 and April 2015,” said Brian Turmail, the trade group’s spokesman.
“Our point is that, while we’ve got two broader economic trends that are affecting construction and employment in Columbia, we are sort of shooting ourselves in the foot by not investing in infrastructure, that can provide a lot of stability, a lot of employment for the construction industry, and at the same time, provide a bigger boost for the broader economy.”
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The group has launched a nationwide campaign to get state and federal officials to spend more money on transportation.
Columbia has maintained between 14,400 to 14,900 construction jobs since 2010, an indication the state’s economy never fully recovered from the Great Recession. Construction jobs in the Columbia area hit their high mark in April 2006, registering 22,100 positions, according to labor statistics.
The contractors group also said Spartanburg lost 300 construction jobs over the period, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data the organization cited Tuesday. Charleston and Greenville each gained 300 construction jobs while the Myrtle Beach area gained 500 during the one-year period.
South Carolina gained 6,000 construction jobs, a 7 percent increase, during the April to April period, according to the labor statistics agency.
It is unlikely the State Legislature will adopt a House bill that would put $350 million toward road improvement. The bill is being filibustered in the Senate. Congress has until July 31 to pass a surface transportation bill.
Reach Burris at (803) 771-8398