Forty-four states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between March 2015 and March 2016 while construction employment increased in 28 states between February and March, according to analysis of Labor Department data released Friday by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Association officials noted that the five states experiencing year-over-year construction employment declines are all energy producing states where construction demand has likely suffered from declining prices for coal, oil and other fuels. “Construction employment growth occurred all regions in the latest 12 months,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association.
“The only soft spots in construction demand and employment are in states that rely on energy extraction for a large segment of their economy. The economic diversity across the leading job-growth states suggest that construction will continue to add to jobs gains in much of the country.”
California added the most construction jobs (39,600 jobs, 5.6%) between March 2015 and March 2016. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (27,500 jobs, 6.5%), New York (17,300 jobs, 4.9%) and Massachusetts (16,000 jobs, 11.9%). Hawaii added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year (20.9%, 7,000 jobs), followed by Rhode Island (13.3%, 2,200 jobs), Massachusetts and Nevada (11.6%, 7,500 jobs). North Dakota lost the highest percent and total number of construction jobs (-15.7%, -5,700 jobs) for the year. Other states that lost jobs for the year include Alaska (-8.7%, -1,600 jobs), Wyoming (-7.1%, -1,700 jobs), Kansas (-5.6%, -3,400 jobs) and West Virginia (-1.2%, -400 jobs).
Construction employment was unchanged in Connecticut. Pennsylvania added the most construction jobs between February and March (6,000 jobs, 2.6%). Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include Georgia (4,300 jobs, 2.5%), Illinois (4,100 jobs, 1.9%), Colorado (3,900 jobs, 2.5%) and Iowa (3,600 jobs, 4.4%). West Virginia (4.5%, 1,400 jobs) added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month, followed by Iowa, Nevada (4.1%, 3,000 jobs) and Hawaii (3.3%, 1,300 jobs).
Construction employment declined in 22 states during the past month and held steady in Washington, D.C. California shed more construction jobs than any other state (-7,400 jobs, -1.0%), followed by Indiana (-2,300 jobs, -1.7%), Missouri (-2,000 jobs, -1.7%) and Minnesota (-1,600 jobs, -1.3%). Arkansas lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between February and March (-3.0%, -1,500 jobs), followed by New Hampshire (-2.3%, -600 jobs) and Alaska (-2.3%, -400 jobs).
Association officials cautioned that worker shortages will continue to be more pronounced as construction grows in many parts of the country. They again urged federal, state and local officials to act on the measures outlined in the association's Workforce Development Plan to rebuild the once robust vocational education system that once existed in many parts of the country to recruit and train new workers.
“These healthy job gains show that educators and policy makers in all states should provide more support to construction education and training programs,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. "As a result, we are loading many students up with college debt instead of encouraging them to begin making higher-than-average wages as construction craft workers."