Grand Forks lost greatest percentage of construction jobs in the U.S. last year
The Grand Forks metro area had the greatest percentage of construction job losses in the nation last year, and the industry is calling for Congress to pass a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill to give companies more work.
Construction businesses lost a total of 1,000 jobs in Grand Forks between December 2016 and December 2017, or 24 percent, according to numbers released by the Associated General Contractors of America. The city had about 3,100 employees in the industry, marking the largest percentage drop among the 358 metros the AGCA tracks.
Grand Forks ranked sixth for total number of jobs lost.
AGCA leadership and construction company representatives attributed the job decline to a drop in workload, particularly in the public sector.
"What makes these jobs even more frustrating is the fact many of them could have been avoided," AGCA spokesman Brian Turmail said during a Tuesday news conference at a Grand Forks warehouse. "Yet too many local construction firms that work on vital infrastructure like highways and bridges are seeing less work today than just a few years ago."
Opp Construction, a Grand Forks company that owns the warehouse where the media event was held, didn't cut jobs last year, but it has seen a drop in workload and couldn't hire the 30 to 40 people it typically does each construction season, Opp Vice President Sally Miskavige said.
The industry wants Congress to pass an infrastructure bill that could fund $1.5 trillion in road, bridge and waterway projects over the next decade. President Donald Trump previously said he would make fixing aging infrastructure in the country a priority, but it's unclear when Congress would take up an infrastructure bill.
Check back for updates as this story develops.