Construction firms added jobs in 40 states and the Washington, D.C. over the past 12 months and in 30 states and D.C. between April and May, according to an analysis of federal data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). AGC officials said the employment gains help, but that construction employment remains below peak levels in every state and the District of Columbia, except North Dakota.
"With demand for construction growing in most states, many firms are slowly rebuilding their depleted payrolls," said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s CEO. "But if overall economic growth slows, construction employment could backslide in many states."
Nevada led all states in percentage gains in construction employment (12.5 percent, 7,000 jobs) between May 2013 and May 2014. Other states adding a high percentage of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included Florida (9.8 percent, 35,300 jobs), Minnesota (9.7 percent, 9,700 jobs) and Kansas (8.9 percent, 5,000 jobs). California added the most new construction jobs for the year (37,700 jobs, 5.9 percent), followed by Florida, Texas (26,500 jobs, 4.3 percent) and New York (12,000 jobs, 3.7 percent).
Ten states shed construction jobs during the past twelve months, with West Virginia losing the highest percentage, (-6.8 percent, -2,200 jobs). Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs include New Jersey (-6.2 percent, -8,500 jobs), Montana (-5.7 percent, -1,400 jobs) and New Mexico (-5.0 percent, -2,100 jobs). New Jersey lost the most construction jobs between May 2013 and May 2014, followed by Arizona (-4,100 jobs, -3.3 percent), Virginia (-2,800 jobs, -1.6 percent) and West Virginia.
Minnesota (3,800 jobs, 3.6 percent) added the most jobs between April and May, followed by New York (3,000 jobs, 0.9 percent), Colorado (2,800 jobs, 2.1 percent) and Pennsylvania (2,200 jobs, 0.9 percent). Wyoming (4.1 percent, 900 jobs) had the highest percentage increase for the month, followed by Minnesota, Vermont (3.6 percent, 500 jobs) and Kansas (3.2 percent, 1,900 jobs).
Nineteen states lost construction jobs for the month, with Florida (-6,100 jobs, -1.5 percent) losing the most. Other states experiencing large monthly declines in total construction employment included Arizona (-4,400 jobs, -3.6 percent), Ohio (-3,600 jobs, -1.9 percent) and Missouri (-3,500 jobs, -3.2 percent). Arizona experienced the highest monthly percentage decline, followed by Missouri, New Hampshire (-2.7 percent, -600 jobs) and West Virginia (-2.4 percent, -800 jobs).
Association officials emphasized that Washington officials could bring additional security to construction employment levels by passing new legislation to finance highway and transit construction. By passing a new surface transportation bill that includes the kind of revenue being proposed by Senators Corker and Murphy, a lot of stability would be added to what has been a very uneven construction recovery.
"Quickly passing a long-term highway and transit bill will give many construction employers the security they need to begin adding to their payrolls," Sandherr said. "It is hard to hire someone if you don't know what the market conditions will be like next year, or even next month, which is exactly what many highway and transit contractors have to cope with right now."