Construction firms added jobs in 37 states over the past 12 months and in 30 states between January and February according to an analysis March 28 by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials said the jobs gains came even as many parts of the country experienced unusually severe winter weather, include cold and snowy conditions in the Northeast and Midwest, and warm and unusually dry conditions in much of the Southwest.
“Considering the mix of states adding and losing construction jobs for the month and year, it seems winter conditions had less of an impact than many had expected,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Instead, what appears to be driving construction employment is differing levels of demand for new buildings and infrastructure amid a relatively uneven economic recovery.”
Florida led all states in both percentage and total construction gains with an 11 percent rise and 39,200 new jobs between February 2013 and February 2014. Other states adding a high percentage of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included Nevada (10.4 percent, 5,800 jobs); Oregon (9.8 percent, 7,000 jobs) and Minnesota (8.1 percent, 7,900 jobs). After Florida, California added the most new construction jobs for the year (38,800 jobs, 6.2 percent); followed by Texas (23,700 jobs, 3.9 percent) and Minnesota.
A total of 10 states plus D.C. shed construction jobs between February 2013 and February 2014, while employment was constant in three other states. The largest number of losses occurred in Indiana (minus 3,300, minus 2.6 percent), followed by New Jersey (minus 2,800 jobs, minus 2.1 percent) and West Virginia (minus 2,300 jobs, minus 6.5 percent). West Virginia had the highest percentage decline in construction employment, followed by the District of Columbia (minus 5.0 percent, minus 700 jobs); Montana (minus 2.9 percent, minus 700 jobs) and Indiana.
California (14,100 jobs, 2.2 percent) added the most jobs between January and February, followed by Florida (7,200 jobs, 1.9 percent); Texas (5,700 jobs, 0.9 percent) and Georgia (3,500 jobs, 2.4 percent). Wyoming 3.3 percent, 700 jobs) had the highest percentage increase for the month, followed by Missouri (2.8 percent, 2,900 jobs); Connecticut (2.5 percent, 1,400 jobs) and Michigan (2.5 percent, 3,300 jobs).
Twenty states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs between January and February with Ohio (minus 8,100 jobs, minus 4.2 percent) losing the most. Other states experiencing large monthly declines in total construction employment included Maryland (minus 3,900 jobs, minus 2.6 percent); Kansas (minus 3,000 jobs, minus 4.9 percent) and North Carolina (minus 2,300 jobs, minus 1.3 percent). Kansas experience the highest monthly percentage decline, followed by Ohio, Alaska (minus 3.4 percent, minus 600 jobs) and South Dakota (minus 3.2 percent, minus 700 jobs).
Associated officials said that even as construction employment slowly recovers in certain parts of the country, total construction employment remains below peak levels in every state and the District of Columbia. They urged Congress and the administration to avoid letting the federal highway funding lapse this summer when the federal Highway Trust Fund balance is expected to reach zero, which would undermine the industry’s recovery.
“Congress and the administration should be focused on writing legislation to fix the Highway Trust Fund and put in place a long-term transportation program,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Given how fragile the construction industry remains, the last thing we need is for billions of dollars worth of highway projects to get put on hold this summer.”