AGC: Construction Employment Up in 36 States vs 2015 | Construction News

Analyzing the latest report from the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the Associated General Contractors of America says that 36 states added construction jobs between August 2015 and August 2016, while construction employment increased in only 24 states between July and August of this year.

AGC officials said demand for construction appears to be cooling in some markets but added that many firms report they would be expanding their headcount if they could find qualified workers to hire.

"The construction market has cooled off in recent months but continues to outperform the overall economy in most states, with solid year-over-year job gains," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. "Despite some slowing in public construction, apartments and manufacturing projects, contractors in many states say they would be hiring more employees if they could find enough qualified workers."

California added the most construction jobs (29,300 jobs, 4.0 percent) between August 2015 and August 2016. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (22,000 jobs, 5.1 percent), Colorado (16,800 jobs, 11.3 percent) and Iowa (14,400 jobs, 18.7 percent). Iowa added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Hawaii (12.3 percent, 4,300 jobs), Colorado and Idaho (9.2 percent, 3,500 jobs).

The District of Columbia and 13 states that shed construction jobs over the year, Kansas lost the highest number and share (-4,700 jobs, -7.7 percent). Other states that lost jobs for the year include Alabama (-3,500 jobs, -4.3 percent), North Dakota (-2,200 jobs, -6.5 percent), Montana (-1,900 jobs, -7.2 percent) and Kentucky (-1,900 jobs, -2.5 percent). Construction employment was unchanged for the year in Nebraska.

Michigan added the most construction jobs between July and August (2,600 jobs, 1.8 percent). Other states adding a high number of construction jobs for the month include Ohio (2,100 jobs, 1.0 percent), California (2,000 jobs, 0.3 percent), Tennessee (1,700 jobs, 1.4 percent) and Missouri (1,600 jobs, 1.4 percent). Wyoming added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month (2.4 percent, 500 jobs), followed by Michigan, Nevada (1.5 percent, 1,100 jobs), Missouri and Tennessee.

Construction employment declined in 25 states and D.C. during the past month and held steady in Montana. New York shed more construction jobs than any other state (-4,600 jobs, -1.3 percent), followed by Georgia (-3,500 jobs, -1.9 percent), Maryland (-2,700 jobs, -1.7 percent), Arizona (-2,500 jobs, -1.8 percent) and Indiana (-2,300 jobs, -1.7 percent). Alaska lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between July and August (-4.1 percent, -700 jobs), followed by Connecticut (-2.8 percent, -1,600 jobs), Georgia, New Mexico (-1.8 percent, -800 jobs, Arkansas (-1.8 percent, -900 jobs) and Arizona.

Association officials said that even as slowing demand for certain types of construction projects, especially public sector projects, was slowing, firms in many parts of the country remain more worried about the lack of available workers than the lack of available work. They urged U.S. Senators to act on a House-passed measure that would boost funding for, and make needed reforms to, career and technical school programs to encourage and prepare more students to pursue high-paying careers in construction.

"Making it easier for school districts to set up programs that teach construction skills will encourage more students to pursue construction careers," Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer for the association, said.