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Construction Employment Increased in 37 States, District of Columbia

Industry insiders noted that the sector's recovery is erratic and remains vulnerable to a growing labor shortage.

Wed November 26, 2014 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Construction firms added jobs in 37 states and the District of Columbia between October 2013 and October 2014 while construction employment increased in 28 states and the District of Columbia between September and October, according to an analysis Nov. 21 of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the sector’s recovery is erratic and remains vulnerable to factors like growing labor shortages, new regulatory burdens and stagnant public sector demand.

“These year-over-year and one-month changes show that construction is doing well in most of the country,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Yet, the list of states that have added construction jobs varies from month to month, showing that the industry’s recovery remains vulnerable to worker shortages and unfavorable governmental actions.”

Florida added the most construction jobs of any state (38,900 jobs, 10.2 percent) between October 2013 and October 2014. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included Texas (38,500 jobs, 6.2 percent), California (34,300 jobs, 5.3 percent), Illinois (14,800 jobs, 7.8 percent) and Utah (11,000 jobs, 14.9 percent). North Dakota (15 percent, 4,900 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Utah, Florida, Illinois and Wisconsin (7.2 percent, 7,000 jobs).

Twelve states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months, with construction employment unchanged in Hawaii. The largest percentage and total losses occurred in New Jersey (minus 8.1 percent, minus 11,100 jobs), Mississippi (minus 7.7 percent, minus 4,200 jobs), West Virginia (minus 7.6 percent, minus 2,600 jobs) and Kentucky (minus 7.6 percent, minus 5,200 jobs).

Twenty-eight states and D.C. added construction jobs between September and October. Texas (9,200 jobs, 1.4 percent) added the most jobs, followed by Florida (6,200 jobs, 1.5 percent), Utah (2,800 jobs, 3.4 percent) and Colorado (2,600 jobs, 1.9 percent). Idaho (3.6 percent, 1,200 jobs) had the highest percentage increase for the month, followed by Utah, D.C. (2.9 percent, 400 jobs) and South Dakota (2.8 percent, 600 jobs).

Nineteen states lost construction jobs for the month, while construction employment was unchanged in Arkansas, Kansas and South Carolina. New York (minus 6,100 jobs, minus 1.8 percent) lost the most construction jobs between September and October. Other states experiencing large monthly declines in total construction employment included New Jersey (minus 3,500 jobs, minus 2.7 percent), Ohio (minus 2,800 jobs, minus 1.5 percent), Michigan (minus 2,300 jobs, minus 1.7 percent) and Nevada (minus 2,300 jobs, minus 3.6 percent). Vermont (minus 6.8 percent, minus 1,000 jobs) experienced the highest monthly percentage decline, followed by Rhode Island (minus 4.1 percent, minus 700 jobs), Nevada and Maine (minus 3.1 percent, minus 800 jobs).

Association officials said one reason job growth remains inconsistent in certain states is that many firms are struggling to cope with growing worker shortages, new regulatory burdens and flat, or declining, public sector investments in infrastructure and construction.

“Many firms are having a hard time expanding their payrolls as wages rise, costs grow and market demand remains varies greatly from one segment to the next,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

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