Forty states added construction jobs between July 2018 and July 2019, while construction employment increased in 25 states from June to July, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data released Aug. 16. Association officials said the new jobs totals indicate there is a need for new federal investments in career and technical education programs, along with immigration reform.
"Demand for projects, and the workers to build them, shows no sign of letting up in most states, and contractors continue to increase headcount when they can find qualified workers," said chief economist Ken Simonson. "But job openings at the end of June were the highest ever for June, suggesting that contractors are struggling to find all the workers they need in many states."
Texas added the most construction jobs over the year (48,400 jobs, 6.6 percent), followed by California (37,100 jobs, 4.3 percent), Florida (21,300 jobs, 3.9 percent), and Arizona (17,400 jobs, 11 percent). Wyoming added the highest percentage of construction jobs over 12 months (13.1 percent, 2,600 jobs), followed by West Virginia (11.7 percent, 5,000 jobs), North Dakota (11.6 percent, 3,000 jobs), and Arizona. Construction employment reached a record high in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.
Ten states shed construction jobs over the latest 12 months. Louisiana lost the largest number and percentage of construction jobs (minus 12,100 jobs, minus 7.9 percent). Other states with large job losses include Ohio (minus 2,900 jobs, minus 1.3 percent), South Carolina (minus 2,800 jobs, minus 2.7 percent), and Massachusetts (minus 2,500 jobs, minus 1.6 percent). Other states with a substantial percentage decline include Vermont (minus 3.3 percent, minus 500 jobs), South Carolina, Connecticut (minus 2.6 percent, minus 1,500 jobs), and Massachusetts.
Texas added the most construction jobs between June and July (6,300 jobs, 0.8 percent), followed by Utah (2,700 jobs, 2.5 percent), Washington (1,900 jobs, 0.9 percent), Virginia (1,700 jobs, 0.8 percent), and Minnesota (1,600 jobs, 1.2 percent). Utah added the highest percentage of construction jobs for the month, followed by Montana (2.1 percent, 600 jobs), Minnesota, and North Dakota (1.1 percent, 300 jobs).
Construction employment decreased from June to July in 22 states and was flat in Kentucky, Idaho, D.C., and Vermont. Ohio lost the largest number of construction jobs for the month (minus 1,900 jobs, minus 0.9 percent), followed by South Carolina (minus 1,500 jobs, minus 1.5 percent), Florida (minus 1,400 jobs, minus 0.2 percent), Missouri (minus 1,400 jobs, minus 1.1 percent) and Illinois (minus 1,100 jobs, minus 0.9 percent). Other states with a substantial percentage decline for the month included Alaska (minus 1.8 percent, minus 300 jobs), South Carolina, West Virginia (minus 1.40 percent, minus 700 jobs), and Missouri.
Association officials said that with overall unemployment rates at all-time lows in many states, there is a pressing need for Congress and the Trump administration to adequately fund career and technical education programs and enact immigration reforms. These measures would enable schools to more easily establish construction-focused programs. In addition, immigration reform is needed that would allow more people with construction skills to enter the country legally.
"Contractors would gladly add even more high-paying middle-class jobs if they could only find more qualified workers to bring on board," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "The federal government should do more to build awareness of the opportunities and make it easier to prepare and attract more people into construction. Such steps will provide significant benefits to the broader economy."
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