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Construction Employment Increased in 40 States, D.C. During the Past Year

Milder weather - and increased optimism - are two factors that led to the increase.

Fri January 02, 2015 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Construction firms added jobs in 40 states and the District of Columbia between December 2013 and December 2014 while construction employment increased in 38 states and D.C. between November and December, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that construction employment gains are consistent with the general optimism most contractors expressed in the association’s recently release Construction Hiring and Business Outlook.

“Part of the reason for the positive December construction employment figures was the exceptionally harsh weather in much of December 2013 and November 2014 and milder than normal weather in December 2014,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Nevertheless, the underlying trend is very positive, with construction employment expanding at more than double the rate for total nonfarm payroll jobs.”

Texas added more new construction jobs (47,500 jobs, 7.7 percent) between December 2013 and December 2014. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included Florida (34,300 jobs, 8.9 percent), California (26,000 jobs, 4.0 percent), Illinois (20,200 jobs, 10.6 percent) and Washington (14,100 jobs, 9.5 percent). North Dakota (25.7 percent, 8,300 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Utah (13.4 percent, 10,100 jobs), Wisconsin (12.7 percent, 12,400 jobs) and Arkansas (12.6 percent, 5,800 jobs).

Ten states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months. West Virginia lost the highest percentage (minus 9.1 percent, minus 3,000 jobs). Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs include Mississippi (minus 7.5 percent, minus 4,000 jobs), Hawaii (minus 4.5 percent, minus 1,400 jobs) and Arizona (minus 3.4 percent, minus 4,300 jobs). Arizona lost the most construction jobs between December 2013 and December 2014, followed by Mississippi, West Virginia and Ohio (minus 2,500 jobs, minus 1.3 percent).

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between November and December. New York (6,400 jobs, 2.0 percent) added the most jobs, followed by Illinois (6,000 jobs, 2.9percent), Texas (5,100 jobs, 0.8 percent) and North Carolina (4,100 jobs, 2.3 percent). Montana (9.9 percent, 2,300 jobs) had the highest percentage increase for the month, followed by South Dakota (7.0 percent, 1,500 jobs), North Dakota (6.6 percent, 2,500 jobs) and Wyoming (4.3 percent, 900 jobs).

Ten states lost construction jobs for the month, while construction employment was unchanged in Indiana and New Mexico. California (minus 12,300 jobs, minus 1.8 percent) lost the most construction jobs between November and December. Other states experiencing large monthly declines in total construction employment included Pennsylvania (minus 4,800 jobs, -2.0 percent) and Virginia (-2,200 jobs, minus 1.2 percent). Vermont (minus 2.0 percent, minus 300 jobs), Pennsylvania and Hawaii (minus 2.0 percent, minus 600 jobs) all experienced the highest monthly percentage decline, followed by California and Virginia.

Association officials said the latest construction employment figures are consistent with the optimism many contractors expressed in the association’s recently-released annual Construction Hiring and Business Outlook. According to the outlook, 80 percent of contractors report they plan to add new construction jobs in 2015. In addition, more contractors expect demand for most construction market segments this year will grow than expect it to shrink.

“The construction industry appears on track to add many new construction jobs in 2015,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

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