Private Sector Growth Leads to July Employment Gains

September 23, 2013

Between July and August 2013, construction employment increased in 26 states, as 35 states added jobs in the construction sector for the year, according to analysis of federal data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Employment remains below peak levels in most states, AGC officials noted.

“While we would all like to see even more robust growth, it is encouraging that most states have a larger construction workforce today than they did a year ago,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “It will take a lot more growth, however, before construction employment levels return to their pre-recession levels in most places.”

Association officials said that much of the industry’s recent growth was coming from a few private sector areas, particularly demand for new housing and energy facilities. Those gains have been strong enough to offset declining public sector investments and weak private sector demand in areas like retail construction. As a result, many construction employers would be particularly hard hit by a sudden halt in federal construction activity.

“The impacts of a sudden halt in discretionary federal construction investments could be quite severe, especially on employment levels in states with a number of federal construction projects underway” Sandherr added.

South Dakota had the largest one-month percentage gain (6.7 percent, 1,300 jobs). California (7,700 jobs, 1.3 percent) added the largest number of jobs for the month.

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs between July and August. Oklahoma had the steepest percentage drop in construction employment for the month (-4.2 percent, -3,000 jobs), followed by Hawaii, Nebraska and Utah. Texas lost the largest number of jobs between July and August.

California added the most construction jobs for the year (29,100 jobs, 5.0 percent), followed by Texas (24,200 jobs, 4.1 percent), Florida (19,500 jobs, 5.7 percent) and Louisiana (10,600 jobs, 8.4 percent). Wyoming had the steepest percentage increase (12.8 percent, 2,700 jobs), followed by Mississippi (12.0 percent, 5,700 jobs), Colorado (8.8 percent, 10,100 jobs) and Hawaii (8.8 percent, 2,600 jobs).

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs between August 2012 and August 2013, while construction employment levels remained unchanged for the year in Vermont. Indiana lost the most jobs over the past year and experienced the steepest rate of decline (-10,100 jobs, -8.1 percent).

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