Construction employment rose in 28 states and the District of Columbia between December 2010 and December 2011, the largest number of states with year-over-year employment gains since November 2007, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. In contrast, 24 states plus D.C. lost jobs between November and December 2011, while 23 states added construction jobs for the month.
“It is encouraging that a clear majority of states added jobs during 2011, but it is too early to conclude that the industry is on a steady upswing,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Public construction is likely to shrink in 2012 and there are many uncertainties about home building, office and retail construction.”
Seasonally adjusted construction employment climbed from November to December in 22 states — New Hampshire had the largest one-month percentage gain (4.9 percent, 1,000 jobs), while California added the largest number of construction jobs for the month (4,800 jobs, 0.8 percent). Vermont had the second largest one-month percent gain (4.7 percent, 600 jobs). Indiana added the second largest number of jobs for the month (3,600 jobs, 2.9 percent increase).
Of the 25 states plus D.C. that lost construction jobs from November to December, West Virginia had the largest one-month percentage drop (minus 4.7 percent, minus 1,600 jobs), with New York next (minus 3.6 percent, minus 11,400 jobs), followed by Nevada (minus 3.5 percent, minus 2,000 jobs) with Wyoming (minus 3.0 percent, minus 700 jobs) and Rhode Island (minus 3.0 percent, 500 jobs) tied. New York lost the largest number of construction jobs for the month (minus 11,400 jobs, minus 3.6 percent), followed by Illinois (minus 4,300 jobs, minus 2.2 percent), then Louisiana (minus 2,800 jobs, minus 2.8 percent). Maine, Connecticut, and Mississippi had no change in monthly construction employment.
North Dakota ranked first among 29 states and the District of Columbia that recorded construction employment gains from December 2010 to December 2011. The state added 24 percent (5,100 jobs). Indiana ranked second (12.1 percent, 13,600 jobs), followed by West Virginia (10.2 percent, 3,000 jobs) and Tennessee (6.7 percent, 7,200 jobs). California added the largest number of jobs (21,300, 3.9 percent), followed by Indiana (13,600, 12.1 percent).
Among the 21 states that lost construction jobs over the past 12 months, New Mexico experienced the steepest decline (minus 13.7 percent, minus 6,000 jobs), followed by Delaware (minus 5.6 percent, minus 1,100 jobs), Georgia (minus 4.6 percent, minus 6,400 jobs) and Alabama (minus 4.4 percent, minus 3,700 jobs). Georgia shed the largest number of jobs over the year (minus 6,400 jobs, 4.6 percent) with Texas (minus 6,300 jobs, minus 1.1 percent) losing the second-highest number of jobs; New Mexico was third- worst (minus 6,000 jobs, minus 13.7 percent). North Carolina had no change in construction employment over the year.
Association officials said the new state employment figures are consistent with the results of their recently released Construction Hiring and Business Outlook. While more contractors report plans to hire than layoff in 2012, the overall outlook was mixed as contractors expressed concern about funding for a host of publicly funded market segments.
“Short term, and shortsighted, cuts in construction investments could undermine chances for a construction industry recovery in 2012,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “It is essential that Congress follow through on reported agreements that may finally allow for enactment of long-overdue aviation and surface transportation legislation.”