Construction employment shows signs of stabilizing

Six states add jobs in the past year and 22 states add jobs in the past month

News AGC July 23, 2010
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Half the states either added construction jobs or kept the same number in May as construction employment edged closer to stability in June, according to an analysis of federal employment data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

In the past year, construction employment rose in six states, the largest number of states to post year-to-year increases since October 2008.

The largest year-over-year increase was in Kansas, where construction employment rose 7.7% (4,400 jobs), followed by Alaska (3.1%, 500 jobs); Arkansas (2.4%, 1,200 jobs); West Virginia (2.4%, 800 jobs); and New Hampshire (2.3%, 500 jobs).

Kentucky experienced the highest one-month percentage increase in construction employment (2.4%, 1,600 jobs), followed by New Mexico (2.1%, 900 jobs); Massachusetts (1.9%, 2,000 jobs); Utah (1.5%, 1,000 jobs); and Nebraska (1.5%, 700 jobs).

Despite the positive trends in these states, Ken Simonson, chief economist for the trade association, pointed out, the construction industry is still very much struggling.

“It is encouraging to see some states adding construction jobs and the declines in others getting less severe,” said Simonson. “But there’s little room to celebrate with overall construction employment at a 14-year low and demand for most construction services still weak.”

The largest percentage job decrease compared with the last year was in Nevada, 24.4% (19,500 jobs), followed by Vermont (18.5%, 2,500 jobs); Wyoming (16.6%, 4,000 jobs); and Washington (14.3%, 22,900 jobs). California lost the largest number of jobs (74,400, 12%).

Wyoming lost the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month (6.9%, 1,500 jobs); followed by Vermont (5.2%, 600 jobs); Nevada (4.7%, 3,000 jobs); Idaho (3.7%, 1,100 jobs); and Iowa (3%, 1,900 jobs).

Simonson noted that the producer price index for construction dropped 0.9% in June. “In a few months, however, many companies are likely to have closed their doors, and materials costs will be rising again,” the economist cautioned.

Association officials warned that stimulus money that has funded projects and added construction jobs in many states will soon run out, and Congress has yet to pass most of its regular long-term infrastructure bills.

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