Construction firms added jobs in 40 states and the District of Columbia between May 2014 and May 2015 and in 28 states and D.C. between April and May, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Association officials noted that the mix of states adding and losing construction jobs continues to vary amid fluctuations in demand. “Construction has outpaced the overall economy in adding workers nationally but the mix of states with construction job gains keeps changing,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The top 10 states for job gains from April to May had previously lagged in adding construction workers, while energy-producing and other states that had record construction employment a few months ago have slipped.”
California added more new construction jobs (46,600 jobs, 6.9 percent) between May 2014 and May 2015 than any other state. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included Florida (28,200 jobs, 7.2 percent), Texas (20,300 jobs, 3.1 percent), Washington (18,100 jobs, 11.6 percent) and North Carolina (15,600 jobs, 8.8 percent). Idaho (11.8 percent, 4,200 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Washington, Michigan (10.7 percent, 15,100 jobs) and North Carolina.
Ten states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months with West Virginia (-12.3 percent, -4,200 jobs) losing the highest percent of construction jobs. Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs for the year included Mississippi (-7.2 percent, -3,600 jobs), Rhode Island (-5.4 percent, -900 jobs), Maine (-2.7 percent, -700 jobs) and Ohio (-2.2 percent, -4,300 jobs). The largest job losses occurred in Ohio, West Virginia and Mississippi. Simonson noted that the six states that added the highest percentage of construction workers in May were all in the Northeast, a region that has seen less growth in construction in recent years than other parts of the country.
Construction employment increased by 4.3 percent from April to May in Connecticut (2,400 jobs) and New Hampshire (1,000 jobs). Those states were followed by New York (4.2 percent, 14,200 jobs), Vermont (4.1 percent, 600 jobs), Maryland (2.9 percent, 4,500 jobs) and Massachusetts (2.7 percent, 3,500 jobs). New York added the largest number of jobs for the month, followed by California (6,100, 0.9 percent) and Maryland.
“Although most states are adding construction workers, only five have exceeded pre-recession employment peaks, and all five slipped in May,” Simonson observed. “This shows that the industry’s recovery remains vulnerable to a downturn in government investment in infrastructure as well as market forces.”
States that set recent construction employment records included South Dakota, where employment shrank by 3.0 percent (700 jobs) in May, North Dakota (-2.4 percent, -900 jobs), Iowa (-1.8 percent, -1,400 jobs), Louisiana (-1.7 percent, -2,400 jobs) and Oklahoma (-1.0 percent, -800 jobs).
The steepest monthly losses occurred in Wyoming (-4.1 percent, -1,000 jobs) and Wisconsin (-3.6 percent, -4,000 jobs). Wisconsin had the largest number of construction job losses from April to May, followed by Louisiana. “We are likely to see a lot more stability in construction employment once Washington finds a way to finance needed infrastructure projects,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.