Thirty-nine states added construction jobs between January 2016 and January 2017 while 38 states and D.C. added construction jobs between December and January, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials said that many firms report they are having a hard time finding enough qualified workers to hire as they work to keep pace with growing demand.
“Even as firms continue to find ways to expand their headcount, they are increasingly concerned about the lack of available, qualified workers,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. “There is only so much firms can do to attract the limited number of qualified workers before labor shortages begin to impact their operations.”
Florida added the most construction jobs (36,400 jobs, 7.9 percent) during the past year. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include California (15,500 jobs, 2.0 percent); Texas (13,700 jobs, 2.0 percent); Washington (12,300 jobs, 6.9 percent) and Oregon (10,000 jobs, 11.5 percent). Oregon also added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Idaho (11.3 percent, 4,500 jobs); Nevada (10.2 percent, 7,600 jobs) and Rhode Island (8.9 percent, 1,600 jobs).
Eleven states and the District of Columbia shed construction jobs between January 2016 and January 2017. Mississippi lost the highest number of construction jobs (-2,200 jobs, -4.8 percent); followed by Alaska (-1,700 jobs, -10.1 percent); Illinois (-1,500 jobs, -0.7 percent) and D.C. (-1,300 jobs, -8.0 percent). Alaska lost the highest percentage for the year followed by D.C.; Wyoming (-5.4 percent, -1,200 jobs) and Mississippi.
Florida (10,700 jobs, 2.2 percent) added the most construction jobs between December and January. Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include New York (8,200 jobs, 2.2 percent); Ohio (7,800 jobs, 3.8 percent) and Louisiana (7,600 jobs, 5.3 percent). Louisiana also added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month, followed by Oklahoma (5.1 percent, 3,900 jobs); Rhode Island (4.8 percent, 900 jobs) and Indiana (4.7 percent, 6,100 jobs).
Construction employment declined in ten states during the past month and was unchanged in two others. California shed more construction jobs than any other state (-6,900 jobs, -0.9 percent), followed by Colorado (-1,700 jobs, -1.1 percent) and Nebraska (-1,200 jobs, -2.3 percent). Nebraska also lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between December and January, followed by Alaska (-1.9 percent, -300 jobs); Colorado and California.
Association officials once again urged federal leaders to act on a series of measures they outlined in recommendations to the Trump administration and Congress to bolster the supply of qualified workers even as they work to enact new measures to improve the nation’s aging infrastructure. Those measures include boosting funding for career and technical education programs, making it easier for firms to set up regional training programs and making Pell grants eligible for career and community college programs.
“The growth in construction demand is outstripping the growth in the supply of qualified construction workers,” Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer for the association, said. “Federal officials have a great opportunity to attract and prepare even more people for high-paying careers in construction that will cut unemployment and boost the economy.”