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Construction Employment Continues to Grow During 'Fragile' Recovery

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Construction firms added jobs in 39 states and the District of Columbia over the past 12 months and in 29 states and D.C. between March and April according to a recent employment analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data.

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“Growing demand for a range of construction services and better weather helped boost construction employment in most states in April,” said Ken Simonson, the association’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% 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%, 3,400 jobs); Nevada (9.4%, 5,400 jobs) and Utah (8.4%, 6,100 jobs). After Florida, California added the most new construction jobs for the year (39,000 jobs, 6.2%), followed by Texas (23,900 jobs, 3.9%) and Pennsylvania (9,800 jobs, 4.3%).

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%); Alabama (-1,800 jobs, -2.2%) and Virginia (-1,700 jobs, -1%). After New Jersey, the states with the highest percentage decline in construction employment were New Mexico, West Virginia (-3.7%, -1,300 jobs) and Alabama.

Texas (7,500 jobs, 1.2%) added the most jobs between March and April, followed by California (7,100 jobs, 1.1%); Pennsylvania (6,500 jobs, 2.8%) and Florida (4,800 jobs, 1.2%). Rhode Island (5.5%, 900 jobs) had the highest percentage increase for the month, followed by Iowa (4.6%, 3,100 jobs); the District of Columbia (4.5%, 600 jobs) and Pennsylvania.

Twenty states lost construction jobs for the month with Virginia (-3,100 jobs, -1.7%) losing the most. Other states experiencing large monthly declines in total construction employment included New Jersey (-2,800 jobs, -2.1%); North Carolina (-2,500 jobs, -1.4%); Minnesota (-2,200 jobs, -2%) and Arizona (-2,200 jobs, -1.8%). Maine (-3.4%, -900 jobs) experienced the highest monthly percentage decline, followed by New Mexico (-2.7%, -1,100 jobs); West Virginia (-2.1%, -700 jobs) and New Jersey.

Association officials noted that recent 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, port, dam and other important infrastructure projects once it becomes law.


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