Construction employment increased in 39 states over the past 12 months, the most widespread gains since April 2012, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials said action on needed infrastructure investments for water and transportation projects would help support continued employment growth for the industry.
“It is encouraging that three-quarters of the states are now adding construction jobs on a year-over-year basis,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Employment increases are still intermittent in too many states, however, and nearly all states are far below their pre-recession highs.”
Mississippi led all states with a 19-percent increase (9,300 jobs) in construction employment between October 2012 and October 2013. Connecticut was next, with an increase of 11 percent (5,500 jobs), followed by Louisiana (8.3 percent, 10,700 jobs) and Florida (7.7 percent, 26,600 jobs). Florida was first in the number of construction jobs added, closely followed by California (26,000 jobs, 4.3 percent), then Texas (14,500 jobs, 2.4 percent).
Eleven states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs over the past 12 months. Indiana had the steepest percentage drop in construction employment for the month (-9.5 percent, -11,800 jobs), followed by Montana (-7.3 percent, -1,700 jobs) and D.C. (-5.0 percent, -700 jobs). Indiana also lost the largest number of jobs over the year, followed by Illinois (-4,500 jobs, -2.4 percent) and North Carolina (-3,600 jobs, -2.1 percent).
Between September and October, 32 states added construction jobs, 16 states and D.C. lost construction jobs, and employment was flat in Delaware and Wyoming. Alaska had the steepest percentage gain in construction employment for the month (6.0 percent, 1,000 jobs), closely followed by Nevada (5.9 percent, 3,100 jobs), then Vermont (4.3 percent, 600 jobs). Florida added the most construction jobs last month (10,500, 2.9 percent), followed by Louisiana (3,400, 2.5 percent) and Nevada.
The worst percentage decline in construction employment last month occurred in Arizona (-2.7 percent, -3,300 jobs), followed by Hawaii (-2.4 percent, -800 jobs) and New Jersey (-2.2 percent, -3,000 jobs). Texas lost the largest number of jobs between September and October (-4,000 jobs, -0.7 percent), followed by New York (-3,900 jobs, -1.2 percent), Arizona, New Jersey and Washington (-2,800 jobs, -1.9 percent).
Welcome as the employment gains are, association officials cautioned that industry’s recovery was still uneven and urged Congress and the administration to enact measures to help repair and upgrade aging water and transportation systems. In particular, they urged a Congressional conference committee to settle differences between House and Senate versions of the Water Resources Development Act and pass a final bill. They also urged Congressional negotiators to include infrastructure funding as part of any final budget deal.
“Congress has an opportunity to enact measures that will help put people back to work and make our economy more competitive for years to come,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s CEO. “Making our ports more efficient, our bridges safer and our roads less congested will allow American businesses to be more competitive, our products more affordable and our economy more robust.”