Many months of positive momentum in the construction industry was disrupted in spring 2020 following the pandemic shutdowns. Now, a year and a half later, there are signs that some of that momentum has started to rev up again as the industry heads into 2022, especially in California.
People seeking employment in the construction industry are often curious where the best jobs are. Obvious data like wages, job openings and projected growth play into that analysis.
Many other factors also play a role in attracting construction workers, including competition for job openings, cost of living and quality of life. What is one worker's definition of a "great city or state to work in" may differ from another worker's.
Many months of positive momentum in the construction industry was disrupted in spring 2020 following the pandemic shutdowns. Now, a year and a half later, there are signs that some of that momentum has started to rev up again as the industry heads into 2022.
"In response to a survey we conducted, 34 percent of our members said they reduced headcount from summer 2020 to summer 2021," said Ken Simonson, chief economist of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). "However, 40 percent said they increased headcount. Going forward, 74 percent plan to increase headcount over the next 12 months (into summer 2022)."
Employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also has been encouraging. The construction industry added roughly 22,000 jobs in September 2021. While industry employment was still roughly 2.6 percent below the pre-pandemic peak, the gap has continued to narrow. The construction industry unemployment rate stood at 4.5 percent in September 2021, down from 7.1 percent one year prior.
More states also have begun seeing increases in construction employment. According to Simonson's analysis of fall 2021 BLS data, employment increased in 25 states from July to August. Then, from August to September, employment increased in 32 states, offering hope that things continue to head in the right direction in more locations across the country.
Adding Construction Jobs
The most recent BLS data from May 2020 shows that the entire U.S. construction industry employs roughly 5.938 million people. That is down from 6.194 million in 2019. However, things are headed in the right direction. BLS data suggests that the number of construction industry jobs is expected to grow 7 percent through 2030.
As for right now, BLS data shows that the states with the most construction jobs are:
- California: 672,280;
- Texas: 608,110;
- Florida: 413,800;
- New York: 311,430;
- Pennsylvania: 213,630;
- Illinois: 181,550;
- Ohio: 178,900;
- North Carolina: 178,710;
- Virginia: 165,410;
- Washington: 161,780.
Jobseekers also should look at indicators that suggest sustained growth in construction activity.
"Those indicators are economic growth and population growth," Simonson said. "When those indicators are strong, the situation is much different than when, for example, there is a hurricane or other natural disaster that leads to a lot of temporary construction activity in a certain state."
Construction activity. According to Simonson's analysis of data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the following states spent the most on construction in 2019 (numbers depicted in billions):
- California: $118.1;
- Texas: $100.9;
- Florida: $58.7;
- New York: $53.8;
- Pennsylvania: $34.3;
- Illinois: $30.9;
- Georgia: $26.3;
- Ohio: $26.2;
- Washington: $25.7;
- New Jersey: $24.1.
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