Construction jobs increase up to 12% in Metro Detroit

Posted on August 3, 2011

Metro Detroit experienced double-digit growth in construction jobs in June from a year ago, the highest level in 11 years, the Associated General Contractors of America said Tuesday.

The Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn area added 1,800 construction, logging and mining jobs during the June 2010 to June 2011 period, up 10 percent to 19,300, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data provided by the construction group.

The Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills area added 4,300 construction jobs, up 12 percent to 39,700.

The employment increase in Metro Detroit may stem from a boost in private-sector spending on nonresidential projects such as the one under way at the Detroit Medical Center, AGC officials said at a Tuesday news conference at the construction site of DMC’s Children’s Hospital of Michigan Specialty Center.

“It has been too long since we have had news like this to report in Detroit,” said Todd Doenitz, chairman of the AGC of Michigan and vice president of Walled Lake-based Fastdecks Inc.. “From a construction point of view, it looks like this area’s long slump has finally come to an end.”

Nationally, the unemployment rate for the construction industry stood at 15.6 percent in June, down from a recent high of about 25 percent in late 2009 and early 2010, said Brian Turmail, a spokesman for the national contractors group.

Across Michigan, construction employment grew 9 percent in June from the same time a year ago, though some areas such as Jackson and Battle Creek saw the number of jobs fall.

“We do think at least in the Detroit metro area there’s some pretty positive trends,” Turmail said, citing $500 million committed over five years in construction and renovation projects by DMC’s owner Vanguard Health Systems Inc., Detroit Public Schools renovations and the expansion of Marathon Oil Corp.’s refinery in Detroit.

Nearly 50 workers such as masons, sheet metal contractors, pipe fitters and concrete finishers are at the DMC’s pediatric specialty center project, said Rhonda Collins, project manager at Brinker LLC. Brinker won a roughly $30 million contract for the project.

By December, about 100 to 125 workers will be on site, Collins said.

About a third of the contract, or more than $9.8 million in subcontracts, has gone to local and minority-owned companies, she said.

The $43.45 million, five-story specialty center is scheduled to open in May for patients.

By Melissa Burden, The Detroit News