According to data recently released by the Associated General Contractors, Phoenix leads Southwest metropolitan areas in construction hiring, followed by Albuquerque and Las Vegas. The momentum created by the Phoenix metro area’s construction job growth pushed the state of Arizona to 9 percent construction-job growth from June 2012 to June 2013.

Other states that also saw 9 percent growth year-over-year are Mississippi, Louisiana and Wyoming. Nevada and New Mexico both saw increases of 3 percent.

Link to June 2013 AGC Construction Employment By Southwest State ranked by growth

“Although construction activity remains extremely spotty, with strong residential activity offsetting lackluster private nonresidential investment and shrinking public construction spending, workers are being hired in more and more metro areas,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “There is widespread good news for now but the industry remains far below previous employment peaks in most markets.”

The number of metro areas with construction employment increases rose for the fifth consecutive month in June after bottoming out at 146 gainers in January, Simonson says. The June total of 191 metro areas adding construction jobs was the largest number since March 2012.

The Phoenix metropolitan area (11 percent, 9,600 jobs) led the Southwest followed by Albuquerque (6 percent, 1,100 jobs) and Las Vegas (4 percent, 1,600 jobs). Only two other metropolitan areas in the Southwest recorded construction-job gains, Santa Fe (4 percent, 100 jobs) and Tucson (2 percent, 300 jobs).

Link to June 2013 AGC Construction Employment By Southwest Metro Area ranked by growth

Two metro areas tied for the largest number of new jobs added in the past 12 months: Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass. (9,900 jobs, 19 percent) and Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas (9,900 jobs, 6 percent). They were followed closely by Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz. (9,600 jobs, 11 percent) and Los Angeles-Long-Beach-Glendale (9,200 jobs, 8 percent). The largest percentage gains since June 2012 occurred in Pascagoula, Miss. (33 percent, 1,500 jobs), followed by Eau Claire, Wis. (31 percent, 1,000 jobs).

The largest job losses were in Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. (-5,500 jobs, -9 percent), followed by Northern Virginia (-2,900 jobs, -4 percent). The steepest percentage declines in construction employment occurred in Rockford, Ill. (-13 percent, -600 jobs) and Pocatello, Idaho (-13 percent, -200 jobs). They were followed by Gary, Ind. (-12 percent, -2,500 jobs) and Yuma, Ariz. (-12 percent, -300 jobs).

Association officials said that despite growing signs of a construction recovery, the industry still faces challenges, including continued efforts to cut federal investments in infrastructure projects. They noted that a Congressional subcommittee voted last week to cut funding for water and wastewater infrastructure by 75 percent for next year, from $2.36 billion in 2013 to $600 million in 2014.

“Construction employment is heading in the right direction for now, but demand remains weak and the industry’s recovery is still very fragile,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Beyond the obvious threats to the broader economy, cutting investments in vital infrastructure projects puts some of these new construction jobs at risk.”

View construction employment figures by state and rank.