Association officials said that it is vital for policy makers to support and expand programs to provide career opportunities in fields such as construction that are short of workers.
Thirty-five states added construction jobs between September 2015 and September 2016 while construction employment increased in only 21 states and the District of Columbia between August and September, according to analysis of Labor Department data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said contractors still report difficulty filling construction jobs, and they urged Congress to complete action on a bill that would help more students gain the skills to qualify for good-paying careers in construction.
"The list of states that are adding construction jobs has been shrinking, yet contractors generally report they are busy now and optimistic about the workload ahead," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. "Therefore, the lack of employment increases in many states may reflect the difficulty contractors say they are having in finding qualified workers."
California added the most construction jobs (30,900 jobs, 4.2 percent) between September 2015 and September 2016. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (22,800 jobs, 5.2 percent), Colorado (19,400 jobs, 13.0 percent), Washington (15,300 jobs, 8.9 percent) and Iowa (13,700 jobs, 17.7 percent). Iowa added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Colorado, Hawaii (11.1 percent, 3,900 jobs) and Idaho (11.1 percent, 4,200 jobs).
The District of Columbia and 15 states shed construction jobs over the year. Kansas lost the highest number (-4,700 jobs, -7.7 percent), followed by Alabama (-3,500 jobs, -4.3 percent) Pennsylvania (-2,600 jobs, -1.1 percent), North Dakota (-2,100 jobs, -6.3 percent) and Wyoming (-2,100 jobs, -9.2 percent). Wyoming lost the highest percentage of jobs, followed by Kansas, Montana (-6.9 percent, -1,800 jobs), North Dakota and Maine (-5.7 percent, -1,500 jobs).
New York added the most construction jobs between August and September (5,100 jobs, 1.4 percent), followed by California (5,000 jobs, 0.7 percent), Texas (3,400 jobs, 0.5 percent), North Carolina (3,300 jobs, 1.7 percent) and Florida (3,100 jobs, 0.7 percent). Arizona added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month (2.1 percent, 2,900 jobs), followed by North Carolina and South Dakota (1.7 percent, 400 jobs).
Construction employment declined in 24 states and held steady in five states. Pennsylvania lost the most construction jobs during the month (-3,400 jobs, -1.4 percent), followed by Ohio (-2,600 jobs, -1.3 percent) and Utah (-1,500 jobs, -1.7 percent). Wyoming lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between August and September (-4.1 percent, -900 jobs), followed by North Dakota (-1.9 percent, -600 jobs) and Utah.
Association officials said that it is vital for policy makers to support and expand programs to provide career opportunities in fields such as construction that are short of workers. They urged U.S. Senators to act promptly on a House-passed measure that would boost funding for, and make needed reforms to, career and technical school programs to encourage and prepare more students to pursue high-paying careers in construction.
"Congress should act right after the election, and not wait until January, to enact a bill that will help school districts to set up programs that teach construction skills to enable more students to pursue construction careers," Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer for the association, said.