The Big Story Blog

After five brutal years, bright spots in construction?

Posted at 2:45 PM on January 19, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Jobs and unemployment

Minnesota's construction industry gained 200 jobs during 2011, today's latest Minnesota employment data show. That's hopeful news for a sector that's been brutalized the past five years with the collapse in home values, the credit crunch and the Great Recession.

The job count began turning positive toward the end of the construction season and Minnesota is starting to see signs of strength in the "all-important" specialty construction trades, state labor market analyst Steve Hine told reporters today.

Job loss is never good but it's concentrated in heavy and civil engineering construction while the residential building trades are seeing more strength now than at any time in the past five years, Hine said. Housing hasn't turned the corner yet, he added, but the trajectory is better.

Specialty trades are jobs like pouring concrete, plumbing and electrical work. These are points of light in the five-year darkness that is the Minnesota construction industry. Here's a chart showing total construction employment in Minnesota:

construc.jpg

Employment in the industry is down more than 30,000 jobs since the start of the Great Recession in December 2007 -- nearly 50,000 gone since 2005.

As we noted almost exactly one year ago, it's a long way back.

MPR News business editor Bill Catlin contributed to this post.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.