Construction employment expanded in 35 states and the District of Columbia between September 2014 and September 2015 yet only 23 states added jobs between August and September, according to an analysis released today of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the fact as many states lost construction jobs as added them last month was likely due to a combination of labor shortages and uncertainty about a host of federal investment programs.
“Depending on the kind of work they perform, many contractors either can’t find enough workers, or they can’t find enough work,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer for the association. “While overall demand for construction continues to grow and sap the pool of available labor, firms that work on federally-funded projects are dealing with a lot of uncertainty.”
California added the most new construction jobs (43,900 jobs, 6.4 percent) between September 2014 and September 2015. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (26,700 jobs, 6.6 percent), Washington (11,400 jobs, 7.1 percent) and Pennsylvania (11,300 jobs, 4.9 percent). Arkansas (16.1 percent, 7,400 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Alaska (11.2 percent, 1,900 jobs), Kansas (9.5 percent, 5,600 jobs) and South Carolina (9.0 percent, 7,400 jobs).
Fourteen states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months, while construction employment was unchanged in Oregon. West Virginia (-16.9 percent, -5,800 jobs) lost the highest percent of construction jobs. Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs for the year include Rhode Island (-10.9 percent, -1,800 jobs), Ohio (-6.3 percent, -12,400 jobs) and Mississippi (-5.1 percent, -2,400 jobs). The largest job losses occurred in Ohio, West Virginia, Minnesota (-2,700 jobs, -2.5 percent) and Mississippi.
Florida (3,200 jobs, 0.8 percent) added the most construction jobs between August and September. Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include Louisiana (3,100 jobs, 2.2 percent), New Jersey (2,800 jobs, 1.9 percent) and Texas (2,700 jobs, 0.4 percent). Alaska (3.9 percent, 700 jobs) added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month, followed by New Mexico (3.2 percent, 1,300 jobs), South Dakota (2.6 percent, 600 jobs), Utah (2.5 percent, 2,000 jobs) and Louisiana.
Twenty-three states lost construction jobs during the past month while construction employment was unchanged in four states and the District of Columbia. North Carolina (-3,300 jobs, -1.7 percent) shed more construction jobs than any other state, followed by Colorado (-2,200 jobs, -1.4 percent), Massachusetts (-2,000 jobs, -1.5 percent), New York (-1,800 jobs, -0.5 percent) and Oregon (-1,800 jobs, -2.2 percent). Montana (-4.4 percent, -1,100 jobs) lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between August and September, followed by Idaho (-2.5 percent, -1,000 jobs) and Oregon.
Association officials said that ongoing construction labor shortages in many markets are making it hard for many firms to fill positions. They noted that many firms indicated a low opinion of the pipeline for recruiting and training new construction workers. “One of our top priorities is finding ways to rebuild the pipeline for new workers in our industry,” said Sandherr.