According to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) of Labor Department data, construction firms added jobs in 39 states and the District of Columbia over the past 12 months. Association officials welcomed the mostly positive figures, but cautioned that the industry’s recovery remained fragile, with construction employment levels below prior peaks in every state except North Dakota.
“Growing demand for a range of construction services and better weather helped boost construction employment in most states in April,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “But we are still a long way away from getting back to the kind of employment levels the industry experienced nearly a decade ago.”
Florida led all states in both percentage and total construction gains with a 12.1 percent rise and 43,300 new jobs between April 2013 and April 2014. Other states adding a high percentage of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included North Dakota (11 percent, 3,400 jobs); Nevada (9.4 percent, 5,400 jobs) and Utah (8.4 percent, 6,100 jobs). After Florida, California added the most new construction jobs for the year (39,000 jobs, 6.2 percent), followed by Texas (23,900 jobs, 3.9 percent) and Pennsylvania (9,800 jobs, 4.3 percent).
Ten states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months, while employment was unchanged in Wyoming. New Jersey lost the highest percentage (-6.8) and the most jobs,(-9,300). Other states losing a high number of jobs included New Mexico (-2,000 jobs, -4.8 percent); Alabama (-1,800 jobs, -2.2 percent) and Virginia (-1,700 jobs, -1 percent). After New Jersey, the states with the highest percentage decline in construction employment were New Mexico, West Virginia and Alabama.
Texas (7,500 jobs, 1.2 percent) added the most jobs between March and April, followed by California (7,100 jobs, 1.1 percent); Pennsylvania (6,500 jobs, 2.8 percent) and Florida (4,800 jobs, 1.2 percent). Rhode Island (5.5 percent, 900 jobs) had the highest percentage increase for the month, followed by Iowa, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania.
Twenty states lost construction jobs for the month with Virginia (-3,100 jobs, -1.7 percent) losing the most. Other states experiencing large monthly declines in total construction employment included New Jersey (-2,800 jobs, -2.1 percent); North Carolina (-2,500 jobs, -1.4 percent); Minnesota (-2,200 jobs, -2 percent) and Arizona (-2,200 jobs, -1.8 percent). Maine (-3.4 percent, -900 jobs) experienced the highest monthly percentage decline, followed by New Mexico, West Virginia, and New Jersey.
AGC officials noted that Congressional action on vital infrastructure measures could help sustain the industry’s recovery. A Senate committee approved new surface transportation legislation that will make it easier for state and local officials to fund road, bridge and transit construction projects. Meanwhile, a House/Senate conference committee released a final version of a Water Resources Reform & Development Act that will fund waterways, ports, dams and other important infrastructure projects once it becomes law.
“The industry’s recovery will remain on track if these two infrastructure measures continue to receive the kind of strong bipartisan support we saw this week,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer. “But if members of Congress really want to help the economy, they need to act quickly to make sure we don’t run out of federal road and bridge repair money by this summer, as the government predicts.”