Metropolitan Chicago lost more construction jobs (-5,900, -5%) in April than any metro market in the nation, according to year-over-year data compiled by Arlington,Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America. Losses also were steep in Cincinnati (-2,400, -6%), the nation's third worst performer in April. 

On a percentage basis, employment declines were especially sharp in Decatur, Ill. (-18%, -700 jobs); Eau Claire, Wis. (-17%, -500 jobs), Rockford, Ill. (-17%, -700 jobs) and Detroit (-12%, -2,100 jobs).

The news was somewhat better for other Midwest metro markets, including Milwaukee (5%, -1,100 jobs), and  Indianapolis (+.5%, 200 jobs), though regional construction activity continues to lag that of the West, Southwest and portions of the Southeast.

In all, construction employment increased in 170 out of 339 metropolitan areas between April 2012 and April 2013, declined in 123 and remained the same in 46. AGC officials noted that more metro areas are adding construction jobs as private-sector demand accelerates in many regions.

“Demand for construction continues to grow amid increasing investments in new residential, energy and supply-chain facilities such as factories, rail lines and warehouses,” says AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. “These private sector gains appear strong enough in many parts of the country to outpace declining public sector investments in infrastructure and buildings.”

Two metro areas in Texas virtually tied for the most jobs added in April: Dallas-Plano-Irving (11,500 jobs, 11%) and Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown (11,400 jobs, 6%). They were followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (9,400 jobs, 9%); Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (7,800 jobs, 13%) and Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz. (7,500 jobs, 9%).