Ashton Marra Published

Charleston Area Losing Construction Jobs at Second Fastest Rate in Nation


The Charleston area has lost construction jobs at the second-fastest rate in the nation according to a survey from the Associated General Contractors of America.

A representative of the national group presented the results of the survey of 358 metro areas at the Capitol Wednesday, accompanied by West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Smith.

AGCA Chief Economist Ken Simonson said the Charleston metro area lost about 1,200 construction jobs between April 2016 and April 2017, a 16 percent decrease.

The current employment totals are the lowest recorded in the area since 1990, when the federal government first began tracking the data.

Smith used the survey results as an opportunity to push Gov. Jim Justice’s road bond initiative passed by the Legislature during the 2017 regular session. 

Smith said lawmakers now need to approve bills to increase the gasoline tax and Division of Motor Vehicle fees to pay for the billion-dollar bond, even though voters have yet to approve the initiative.

“This is a situation that we can do something about,” he said. “We can make wise choices that make this not happen, make this slide stop.”

Smith estimates the bond could create 48,000 jobs in West Virginia. That number is based on a national infrastructure investment equation created by Duke University.

The Contractors Association of West Virginia is affiliated with the AGCA and has been lobbying lawmakers to approve the tax and fee increases to fund the road bond.