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Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 10:36am

State Among Worst in Nation for Construction Job Losses

The construction industry in Georgia lost 7.5 percent of its jobs last year, the fifth highest construction job-loss rate in the nation, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America.

In total, the state lost 11,800 jobs in construction.

“Georgia -- while it started adding jobs in the spring and summer -- is losing them again,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist at AGC of America. “You have a long way to go in terms of getting the housing market and probably the office and retail markets back in shape.”

The state’s contractors would seem to agree.

In the association’s 2011 Construction Outlook Survey, 46 percent of Georgia builders indicated they don’t expect things to improve until 2012. Twenty-two percent expect growth in the construction market in 2013, and 17 percent expect growth this year.

In particular, contractors are optimistic about hospital, higher education and power projects. They are less positive about publicly funded projects like highways, schools and public buildings.

The survey also found contractors are split on layoffs this year: 22 percent said they expect to add workers and 22 percent indicated they plan layoffs. Another 56 percent predicted no change in their workforce or did not know.

Simonson said that is an improvement over last year, when more than half of contractors forecast job cuts.

The Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia also predicted some layoffs in its 2011 Georgia Economic Outlook. The center is forecasting a loss of 6,000 jobs.