Fragmented Construction Recovery: AGC

July 19, 2013

Equal numbers of states gained and lost construction jobs in June, highlighting the fragmentary nature of the industry’s recovery, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials added that, despite the fact most states added jobs year-over-year, construction employment levels are below peak levels for nearly every state.

“Job gains and losses were quite different last month from the patterns in the past several years as some lagging states—notably Nevada—added workers, while former high-flyers such as Texas, had layoffs,” said Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist. “On a year-over-year basis, construction employment has increased in more than two-thirds of the states, but nearly all states lag their pre-recession peaks for construction jobs.”

In June, 23 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs, while 24 states shed them. Nevada had the largest one-month percentage increase (5.0 percent, 2,500 jobs), followed by North Dakota (4.2 percent, 1,300) and Iowa (4.0 percent, 2,600). Illinois added the most jobs in June (5,400, 3.0 percent), followed by Washington (4,100, 2.9 percent), Iowa and Nevada. There was no change in Alaska, New Hampshire and Oklahoma.

Connecticut experienced the sharpest decline in construction employment from May to June (-3.4 percent, -1,900), followed by West Virginia (-3.0 percent, -1,100) and Vermont (-2.9 percent, -400). Texas lost the largest number of jobs between May and June (-8,500, -1.4 percent), followed by Pennsylvania (-3,600, -1.6 percent).

Over the past 12 months, 36 states added construction jobs—the larger number with year-over-year gains since May 2012. Wyoming had the largest 12-month percentage increase (10.4 percent, 2,200 jobs), closely followed by Louisiana (9.7 percent, 12,200) and Arizona (9.7 percent, 11,100). California added the most jobs (32,200, 5.5 percent), followed by Texas (31,400, 5.4 percent), Louisiana and Florida (12,200, 3.6 percent).

Among the 14 states with construction job losses between June 2012 and June 2013, South Dakota lost the highest percentage (-6.2 percent, -1,300), followed by Kentucky (-5.2 percent, -3,500) and Indiana (-5.1 percent, -6,400). Indiana had the largest number of jobs lost, followed by Ohio (-3,900, -2.2 percent), Kentucky and Pennsylvania (-3,500, -1.6 percent).

Two states—Louisiana and North Dakota—set new construction employment records in June, but most remain far below their pre-recession peaks, Simonson added. Despite its strong showing in June, Nevada’s construction employment last month was still 64 percent below the June 2006 peak. Similarly, construction employment in Florida and Arizona last month was 49 percent below the June 2006 record highs, in spite of big one-year gains.

Association officials cautioned that the construction industry remains fragile as private sector demand has cooled recently even as public sector investments in construction remain relatively weak.