Construction Employment Mixed Over Past Year

Associated General Contractors of AmericaConstruction employment increased in  half the states plus the District of Columbia from June 2011 to June 2012, but declined in a slim majority of states in the past month, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

25 states and D.C. added construction jobs between June 2011 and June 2012, while construction employment fell in 25 states. D.C. added the highest percentage of new construction jobs for the year (17.8 percent, 2,100 jobs), followed by North Dakota (16.2 percent, 3,800 jobs) and Montana (14.6 percent, 3,300 jobs). California added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months (27,200, 5.0 percent), followed by Texas (24,400, 4.4 percent) and Arizona (11,200, 10.2 percent).

Among states that lost construction jobs during the past year, Alaska lost the highest percentage (-20.5 percent, -3,200 jobs), followed by Wisconsin (-11.1 percent, -10,200 jobs) and Mississippi (-9.7 percent, -4,700 jobs). Florida lost the most jobs (-24,600, -7.4 percent), followed by New York (-12,500, -4.1 percent), Wisconsin and Illinois (-9,900, -5.1 percent).

Less positively, only 18 states plus D.C. added construction jobs between May and June, while construction employment decreased in 27 states and held steady in five. The highest percentage gains for the month occurred in D.C. (7.8 percent, 1,000 jobs), followed by North Dakota (2.6 percent, 700 jobs) and Montana (2.4 percent, 600 jobs). Texas added the most jobs during the month (9,600, 1.7 percent), followed by California (8,100, 1.4 percent) and Ohio (3,500, 2.0 percent).

South Dakota had the steepest percentage decline among states that lost construction jobs for the month (-5.2 percent, -1,100 jobs), followed by Arkansas (-3.7 percent, -1,700 jobs) and Iowa (-3.4 percent, -2,300 jobs). The largest number of construction job losses in June occurred in Florida (-5,300, -1.7 percent), followed by Iowa and Massachusetts (-2,100, -2.0 percent).

Association officials warned that construction employment was likely to stagnate or shrink in more states if federal and state officials continue to cut investments in public infrastructure and buildings.

View the state employment data by rank and by state.

Construction Employment Increases in Half of U.S. Metro Areas

Associated General Contractors of AmericaConstruction employment increased in 171 out of 337 metropolitan areas between February 2011 and February 2012, decreased in 119 and stayed level in 47, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said employment was increasing in many metro areas thanks in large part to growing private sector demand for construction.

Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J. added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (33 percent, 1,300 jobs) followed by Michigan City-La Porte, Ind. (31 percent, 400 jobs). Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, Colo. added the most jobs (6,300 jobs, 10 percent). Other areas adding a large number of jobs included Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif. (4,700 jobs, 5 percent); Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. (4,300 jobs, 10 percent); Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind. (4,100 jobs, 12 percent) and Philadelphia, Pa. (3,500 jobs, 6 percent).

The largest job losses were in Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (-5,400 jobs, -5 percent), followed by St. Louis, Mo.-Ill. (-4,200 jobs, -7 percent); Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (-4,000 jobs, -8 percent) and New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La. (-3,600 jobs, -12 percent). Monroe, Mich. (-32 percent, -600 jobs) lost the highest percentage. Other areas experiencing large percentage declines in construction employment included Springfield, Mass.-Conn. (-27 percent, -2,100 jobs) and Montgomery, Ala. (-17 percent, -1,000 jobs).

Association officials noted that private sector construction spending shot up by 10 percent in the past year even as public sector investments in construction activity have dropped by 1 percent. They said that tight state and local budgets, the winding down of construction activity funded by the stimulus and Base Realignment and Closure programs, and delayed Congressional action on a number of infrastructure bills were all holding back broader construction employment gains.

View construction employment figures by state and rank.

Construction employment declines by 13,000 in February, hits 17.1%

The construction industry lost 13,000 jobs between January and February, but continued a string of year-over-year job increases, according to an analysis of new federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that short-term factors such as weather contributed to the monthly loss even as longer-term trends are becoming a bit more positive.

“Since many firms were able to either get an early start, or a late finish, to construction activity in December and January because of mild conditions, this month’s job decline is probably more of a seasonal correction than the start of a new trend,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Given that the industry added over 47,000 jobs in the previous two months, the overall trend line is actually more positive than the monthly figures would indicate.”

Total construction employment now stands at 5,554,000, or 65,000 (1.2 percent) higher than in February 2011. Simonson noted that February was the sixth consecutive month that construction employment had risen from the same month a year before. Meanwhile, the construction unemployment rate in February was 17.1 percent, double the national unemployment rate, the economist added.

Association officials said the pickup in construction jobs was based largely on recent increases in private sector construction activity. But they cautioned that the positive trend could be undermined by continued political inaction on long-term infrastructure programs, proposed cuts to federal building and waterways construction programs, and Washington’s seeming inability to set long-term tax rates.

Construction employment increases by 17,000, but unemployment rate his 16%

Construction employment increased in December by 17,000 driven by gains in nonresidential construction employment, according to an analysis of new federal employment data released  by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that construction employment likely benefitted from unseasonably warm weather across much of the country that extended the construction season.

“Nonresidential construction is clearly driving last month’s employment gains,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But it is too early to tell whether those gains came because the weather was good enough for crews to keep working well into December or because demand is truly rebounding.”

Total construction employment now stands at 5,544,000 or 0.3 percent higher than a month earlier and 46,000 (0.8 percent) higher than in December 2010, the economist said. He added that the latest employment figures continue a months-long trend of slight gains followed by slight declines in construction employment and that overall construction employment is still far below its peak level of 7,726,000 in April 2006.

The nonresidential construction sector added 17,200 construction jobs in December, Simonson noted. He said nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 20,200 positions, while heavy and civil engineering construction firms – which perform the majority of publicly-funded construction work – shed 300 jobs. Nonresidential building contractors shed 2,700 jobs in December.  Residential construction lost 400 total jobs, as the residential specialty trade contractors shed 2,900 jobs and residential builder added only 2,500 positions in December.

Association officials said the increase in construction jobs was welcome news, but said they were concerned that partisan fighting in Washington would undermine chances of enacting a number of long-overdue infrastructure investment programs and measures needed to boost the economy. Without those measures construction employment was likely to suffer.

“It is going to be hard to pass tax and investment measures to help boost private sector demand when congress and the president are at odds about everything from appointments to how to curb growing federal deficits,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “When elected officials are more interested in scoring political points than addressing our critical infrastructure needs, everybody else – including unemployed construction workers and the economy – suffers.”