Forty-three states added construction jobs between February 2016 and February 2017 while 39 states added construction jobs between January and February, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials noted that the despite the relatively widespread increase in construction employment, most states are still significantly below peak construction employment levels.
“A combination of solid demand and unseasonably mild weather added to construction employment in more states than usual in February,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. “But conditions vary widely. Five states set new records for construction employment, while more than half the states are still at least 10 percent below their all-time highs.”
Florida added the most construction jobs (34,700 jobs, 7.5 percent) during the past year. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include California (16,500 jobs, 2.2 percent); Texas (14,200 jobs, 2.0 percent); and Louisiana (13,500 jobs, 9.6 percent). Rhode Island added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year (12.2 percent, 2,200 jobs), followed by Idaho (10.4 percent, 4,200 jobs); Oregon (10.0 percent, 8,900 jobs) and Louisiana. Five states reached new highs for construction employment: Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, South Dakota and Texas.
Seven states and the District of Columbia shed construction jobs between February 2016 and February 2017. Mississippi lost the highest number and percentage of construction jobs (-4,000 jobs, -8.7 percent). Other locations with steep percentage losses include D.C. (-6.9 percent, -1,100 jobs) and Alaska (-3.0 percent, -500 jobs). Virginia (-1,400 jobs, -0.7 percent) had the second-highest number of job losses over the year, followed by D.C.
Illinois added the most construction jobs between January and February (7,300 jobs, 3.4 percent). Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include Ohio (6,300 jobs, 3.0 percent); California (5,100 jobs, 0.7 percent); Colorado (5,000 jobs, 3.2 percent) and Minnesota (4,500 jobs, 3.8 percent). Alaska added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month (7.9 percent, 1,200 jobs), followed by Delaware (4.7 percent, 1,000 jobs); South Dakota (4.2 percent, 1,000 jobs); Minnesota and Vermont (3.8 percent, 600 jobs).
Construction employment declined in 10 states during the past month and was unchanged in D.C. and New Mexico. Virginia shed more construction jobs than any other state (-3,200 jobs, -1.7 percent), followed by South Carolina (-2,600 jobs, -2.6 percent) and Mississippi (-1,600 jobs, -3.7 percent). Mississippi lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between January and February, followed by South Carolina and Virginia.
Association officials said that many firms continue to face shortages of available qualified workers as they try to keep pace with growing demand. They urged federal, state and local officials to act on measures outlined in the association’s Workforce Development plan to increase career and technical education opportunities, especially for high school students.
“More high school students should know that there are multiple paths to successful careers, and often those paths lead to construction,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “If we want construction firms to continue expanding, we need to make sure there are enough qualified workers available to do the job.”