The latest construction jobs data crunched by the Associated General Contractors of America this week paints the classic good news, bad news scenario.

First, the good. Construction employment either increased or stayed steady in a growing number of metropolitan areas across the country-- 120 of 337--between November 2009 and November 2010, the organization reported.

Now, the not so good. Most of that new employment wasn’t in the residential construction sector, hospital, university, and power projects, but a lot of it was spiked by temporary federal funding for stimulus and military construction.

“Temporary programs like the stimulus helped the construction industry go from really hard hit to just hard hit,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s CEO in a news release announcing the results. “Finally passing long-delayed water and transportation infrastructure bills would help give contractors the stability the industry has been lacking for over two years now.”

Without such help, and with continued weakness in state and local government and private-sector construction demand, job numbers are likely to start slipping again in 2011, organization executives warned.

“It is good to see the construction industry finishing the year on a relatively positive note,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But even if the industry is no longer on the brink, it is still a long way from recovering.”

Here are the top construction job gainers, according to the association: Phoenix added more construction jobs (3,100 jobs, 4%) than any of the 70 metro areas where construction employment increased during the past year. Hanford-Corcoran, Calif., added the highest percentage (300 jobs, 33%).

Other areas adding jobs included Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y. (2,200 jobs, 3%); Pittsburgh (2,100 jobs, 4%); Greeley, Colo. (1,400 jobs, 16%); and Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas (900 jobs, 5%). Construction employment was unchanged in 49 metro areas.

And the losers: The Chicago area lost more construction jobs (-14,800 jobs, -11%) than any of the other 217 metro areas where construction employment declined. Napa, Calif. (-1,900 jobs, -33%) lost the highest percentage.

Other areas experiencing large declines in construction employment included Las Vegas (-13,400 jobs, -23%); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (-8,100 jobs, -7%); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (-6,400 jobs, -7%); and Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, Calif. (-5,900 jobs, -11%).

For complete lists, go to And for rankings, go to

Teresa Burney is a senior editor for BUILDER and BIG BUILDER magazines

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ, Hanford, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, Greeley, CO, Beaumont, TX, Chicago, IL, Napa, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Las Vegas, NV, Atlanta, GA.