Construction employment growth remained sluggish and uneven in May as nearly half of the country—22 states plus the District of Columbia—added jobs over the past year while the remaining states all lost construction jobs, according to a recent analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of state employment data released by the Labor Department. Association officials said the figures reflect the fact that industry-wide employment has stagnated as the result of tepid demand for most private construction and declines in public construction.
“It’s not surprising to see close to an even split between states adding and losing jobs, given that year-over-year construction employment for May was unchanged,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “There just isn’t enough demand for new construction to drive nationwide boosts in construction employment.”
Of the 23 locations with year-over-year increases, the largest percentage gains occurred in Michigan (5.2%, 6,300 jobs); followed by Hawaii (4.2%, 1,200 jobs); Texas (4.1%, 23,200 jobs); Tennessee (4.0%, 4,200 jobs); and the District of Columbia (3.8%, 400 jobs).
Texas, Michigan, Illinois (5,900 jobs, 3.0%), Tennessee and Indiana (2,700 jobs, 2.3%) added the largest number of jobs.
Of the 27 states with decreases over the year, the largest percentage drop in construction employment took place in Nevada (-10.8%, -6,500 jobs); followed by Rhode Island (-10.0%, -1,600 jobs); Georgia (-8.5%, -12,700 jobs); Vermont (-7.9%, -1,100 jobs); and Colorado (-7.7%, -8,900 jobs). Florida (-14,300 jobs, -4.1%) lost the largest number of jobs; followed by Georgia; Colorado; North Carolina (-8,000 jobs, -4.5%); and Maryland (-6,700 jobs, -4.6%).
Simonson noted that 23 states added jobs during the month, while 27 states lost jobs. Construction employment was unchanged for the month in the District of Columbia. South Dakota had the largest percentage rise (7.4%, 1,400 jobs); followed by Hawaii (6.0%, 1,700 jobs); Kansas (3.9%, 2,100 jobs); Michigan (3.2%, 3,900 jobs); and Minnesota (2.8%, 2,200 jobs). Florida (4,100 jobs, 1.2%) added the largest number of jobs; followed by Michigan, Minnesota, Kansas, and Colorado (2,000 jobs, 1.9%).
The largest monthly percentage losses occurred in Alaska (-4.9%, -800 jobs); followed by Rhode Island (-4.0%, -600 jobs); Wyoming (-3.8%, -900 jobs); South Carolina (-3.3%, -2,600 jobs) and Idaho (-3.0%, -900 jobs). The largest number of construction job losses over the month was in California (-5,000 jobs, -0.9%); Maryland (-3,100 jobs, -2.2%); South Carolina, Ohio (-2,500 jobs, -1.5%) and Pennsylvania (-2,400 jobs, -1.1%).
Association officials cautioned that construction employment was likely to remain spotty as long as broader economic growth remains relatively modest. They noted that increased regulatory burdens, stalled infrastructure investment programs and out of control entitlement spending were hampering stronger economic growth.
“Increasing red tape, cutting infrastructure investments and avoiding the causes of our federal deficit aren’t helping the economy or boosting construction employment,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.