Construction Industry Employment Rate Has Increased Over the Past Year
Figures just released by the Associated General Contractors of America show construction industry employment continues to grow across the country. After analyzing statistics from the Labor Department, AGC’s chief economist Ken Simonson says construction employment is higher in 40 states plus the District of Columbia than it was a year ago.
In most states, the increase in construction employment was actually higher than overall employment growth.
The biggest winners
For sheer numbers, employment grew most in California, which posted 42,600 new jobs (an 8.2% gain) comparing April 2015 to April 2014. Other states that added the most jobs were:
- Florida – 32,200 jobs, or 8.2%
- Texas – 25,300 jobs, or 3.9%
- Washington – 18.700, or 12.0%
- Michigan – 14,800, or 10.6%
Idaho actually saw the largest percentage gain – 12.4% — with just 4,400 jobs. A mere five states – Iowa, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota — have regained or exceeded their pre-recession construction employment levels, according to the AGC and the Labor Department.
The biggest losers
West Virginia, Mississippi, Ohio, Nebraska and Rhode Island all lost construction industry jobs between April 2014 and April 2015.
New York is fluctuating, but the trend is upward.
Although the state actually lost 3,200 construction jobs between March and April of this year, the trend for the past 25 years has been generally positive:
- April 1990 – 328,900 jobs
- April 2000 – 323,400 jobs
- April 2011 – 311,700 jobs (the lowest figure since 1999)
- April 2014 – 336,500 jobs
- April 2015 – 340, 200 jobs
Despite widespread improvements in employment and a favorable economic outlook, AGC’s Simonson cautions that the construction industry still faces significant challenges, especially from significant workforce shortages and federal inability to find ongoing, stable funding for badly needed infrastructure projects, including repair of roads and bridges.
Workforce shortages have become chronic since the lingering Great Recession caused many workers to leave the construction industry permanently, in search of more reliable jobs or simply to retire. That leaves contractors in many states understaffed and having to rely on new, inexperienced or unskilled workers just as the marketplace is finally expanding.
With federal funding about to expire again, highway and transit projects may be delayed further or left in limbo until additional funding can be found.