Construction employment expanded in 36 states and the District of Columbia between August 2014 and August 2015 while only 25 states added jobs between July and August, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that job gains may be lagging as many firms report they are having a hard time finding qualified workers to employ.
“While half the states added construction jobs in August, construction spending data and industry reports suggest demand for projects remains very strong,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. “The apparent softness in hiring likely reflects contractors’ difficulty in finding qualified workers.”
California added the most new construction jobs (43,800 jobs, 6.5 percent) between August 2014 and August 2015. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (25,700 jobs, 6.4 percent), North Carolina (13,200 jobs, 7.4 percent) and Washington (12,800 jobs, 8.0 percent). Arkansas (13.6 percent, 6,200 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Idaho (10.0 percent, 3,600 jobs), South Carolina (9.1 percent, 7,500 jobs) and Iowa (8.9 percent, 6,700 jobs).
Thirteen states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months, while construction employment was unchanged in North Dakota. West Virginia (-15.1 percent, -5,100 jobs) lost the highest percent of construction jobs. Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs for the year include Rhode Island (-7.9 percent, -1,300 jobs), Mississippi (-7.4 percent, -3,600 jobs) and Ohio (-5.7 percent, -11,300 jobs). The largest job losses occurred in Ohio, West Virginia, Mississippi and Indiana (-3,600 jobs, -2.9 percent).
Texas (3,200 jobs, 0.5 percent) added the most construction jobs between July and August. Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include Ohio (2,700 jobs, 1.5 percent), North Carolina (2,700 jobs, 1.4 percent) and New York (2,600 jobs, 0.7 percent). Iowa (2.6 percent, 2,100 jobs) added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month, followed by Utah (1.6 percent, 1,300 jobs), Georgia (1.5 percent, 2,400 jobs), Hawaii (1.5 percent, 500 jobs), Nebraska (1.5 percent, 700 jobs) and Ohio.
Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs during the past month while construction employment was unchanged in Louisiana. Michigan (-4,700 jobs, -3.0 percent) shed more construction jobs than any other state, followed by Virginia (-3,200 jobs, -1.7 percent), New Mexico (-2,300 jobs, -5.4 percent), Washington (-2,000 jobs, -1.1 percent) and Mississippi (-2,000 jobs, -4.3 percent). New Mexico lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between July and August, followed by Mississippi and Michigan.
AGC officials noted that the association released a survey last week that showed 86 percent of contractors reported trouble filling hourly or salaried professional positions. They added that these shortages appear to be having an impact on the sector’s recovery and urge federal, state and local officials to act on the measures outlined in the association’s Workforce Development Plan to reinvigorate the craft worker training pipeline.
“While construction employment increased in more than two-thirds of the states over the past year, these gains may fade in the near future unless the industry can attract more people to try construction as a career,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.