Only 23 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between September and October while construction employment increased in 35 states between October 2015 and October 2016, according to analysis of Labor Department data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said declining public-sector investments in infrastructure and other public projects were undermining construction employment growth in many parts of the country.
“Firms that perform public-sector work are having a hard time finding enough work to keep their teams together,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association, noting that public-sector spending on construction is down 2.2 percent for the first nine months of 2016. “These firms would definitely benefit, and be able to handle, the kinds of infrastructure investments the President-elect and Congress have been discussing.”
Michigan added the most construction jobs between September and October (6,000 jobs, 4.0 percent). Other states adding a high number of construction jobs for the month include Louisiana (4,600 jobs, 3.2 percent), Nevada (3,600 jobs, 4.7 percent), Florida (3,500 jobs, 0.8 percent) and Ohio (2,500 jobs, 1.2 percent). Nevada added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month, followed by Montana (4.5 percent, 1,100 jobs), Michigan, Arkansas (3.5 percent, 1,700 jobs) and Louisiana.
Construction employment declined in 23 states during the past month and held steady in four other states. Illinois shed more construction jobs than any other state (-3,300 jobs, -1.5 percent), followed by Texas (-3,200 jobs, -0.5 percent), Iowa (-2,200 jobs, -2.4 percent), Oklahoma (-2,000 jobs, -2.4 percent) and Mississippi (-1,300 jobs, -2.7 percent). Delaware lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between September and October (-2.8 percent, -600 jobs), followed by Mississippi, Idaho (-2.6 percent, -1,100 jobs), Oklahoma and Iowa.
California added the most construction jobs (34,100 jobs, 4.6 percent) between October 2015 and October 2016. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (28,400 jobs, 6.6 percent), Washington (17,300 jobs, 10.0 percent) and Colorado (16,400 jobs, 10.8 percent). Iowa (13.2 percent, 10,400 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Nevada (12.9 percent, 9,200 jobs), Colorado and Washington.
The District of Columbia and 14 states that shed construction jobs over the year. Illinois lost the highest number of construction jobs (-5,500 jobs, -2.5 percent). Other states that lost jobs for the year include Kansas (-4,700 jobs, -7.6 percent), Kentucky (-3,500 jobs, -4.5 percent), Pennsylvania (-3,000 jobs, -1.3 percent) and Alabama (-2,600 jobs, -3.2 percent). Construction employment was unchanged for the year in West Virginia.
Association officials said that even as many firms that perform private-sector work are having a hard time finding qualified workers, many firms that rely on public-sector funding to build roads, bridges and other public infrastructure are more worried about finding work. They urged President-elect Trump and the incoming Congress to act quickly to pass a multi-year infrastructure program and find sustainable ways to pay for future improvements as well.
“The new administration has a unique opportunity to put more people to work in high-paying construction jobs and rebuild the public infrastructure that is critical to our continued economic vitality,” Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer for the association, said.