Construction employment decreased in 27 states and the District of Columbia between February and March, while 33 states lost construction jobs during the past 12 months, the Associated General Contractors of America reported in an analysis of state employment data released by the Labor Department. Association officials said the data show that construction remains gripped in a depression that merits urgent corrective actions at federal and state levels.
“These data show that recovery is spotty and variable in construction, as the location and number of states with job gains retreated from the levels in February,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “While three states posted healthy year-over-year employment gains of more than five percent and North Dakota reached an all-time high in construction employment, West Virginia lost one out of nine construction jobs in the past year.”
The largest monthly percentage losses occurred in Maine (-4.7 percent, -1,200 jobs); followed by Connecticut (-3.0 percent, -1,600 jobs); Idaho (-2.9 percent, -900 jobs); and Louisiana (-2.8 percent, -3,500 jobs). The largest number of construction job losses over the month were in California (-4,300 jobs, -0.7 percent); Louisiana; Florida (-3,200 jobs, -1.0 percent); and Pennsylvania (-2,800 jobs, -1.2 percent).
Simonson noted that 19 states added jobs during the month and four (Indiana, Iowa, Hawaii and New Hampshire) held steady. Oklahoma had the largest one-month percentage increase in employment (5.6 percent, 3,600 jobs), followed by Arkansas (5.3 percent, 2,400 jobs); North Dakota (4.8 percent, 1,000 jobs); and Missouri (4.2 percent, 4,200 jobs). Missouri added the most construction jobs between February and March, followed by Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama (2,300 jobs, 2.7 percent).
Of the 17 states with year-over-year increases, the largest percentage gains occurred in Tennessee (6.3 percent, 6,500 jobs); followed by Texas (6.1 percent, 34,600 jobs); Wyoming (5.3 percent, 1,200 jobs); and Delaware (4.2 percent, 800 jobs). Texas added the largest number of jobs; followed by Pennsylvania (7,600 jobs, 3.5 percent); Tennessee; and Virginia (4,400 jobs, 2.4 percent). Vermont’s construction employment was unchanged.
North Dakota became the first state to exceed its previous high. The state added 800 jobs over the year, bringing its total in March to 21,900, slightly above the 21,800 employed in October 2008.
The largest percentage drop in construction employment between March 2010 and 2011 took place in West Virginia (-11.1 percent, -3,700 jobs); followed by Wisconsin (-8.0 percent, -7,700 jobs); Georgia (-7.6 percent, -11,500 jobs) and Nevada (-7.5 percent, -4,600 jobs). Florida (-14,700 jobs, -4.2 percent) had the largest number of year-over-year job losses, followed by New York (-12,700 jobs, -4.1 percent) and Georgia.
Association officials said the generally weak results showed the urgency of adopting federal and state measures to improve the investment climate for construction. They urged officials in Washington and in state capitals to review and act on the group’s recently released construction industry recovery plan “Building a Stronger Future.”
“It is unacceptable to allow infrastructure to deteriorate when there are thousands of skilled construction workers and capable companies ready to deliver quality projects,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The steps we’ve proposed to cut red tape and address aging infrastructure will put millions to work and boost the overall economy.”