Construction employment increased in 26 states between July and August, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. For the year, employment increased in 35 states. While employment is up, association officials caution that construction employment remains below peak levels in most states and warned of the potential impact of a halt in federal construction investments.
“While we would all like to see even more robust growth, it is encouraging that most states have a larger construction workforce today than they did a year ago,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “It will take a lot more growth, however, before construction employment levels return to their pre-recession levels in most places.”
South Dakota had the largest one-month percentage gain by adding 1,300 new jobs, a 6.7% increase. California added 7,700 jobs, the largest number of jobs for the month, followed by New York, Florida, and Wisconsin. Employment was stable in Alabama and Maine
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs between July and August. Oklahoma had the steepest percentage drop in construction employment for the month followed by Hawaii, Nebraska, and Utah. Texas lost the largest number of jobs between July and August followed by Illinois, Arizona, and Oklahoma.
Association officials said that much of the industry’s recent growth was coming from a few private sector areas, particularly demand for new housing and energy facilities. Those gains have been strong enough to offset declining public sector investments and weak private sector demand in areas like retail construction. As a result, many construction employers would be particularly hard hit by a sudden halt in federal construction activity.
“The impacts of a sudden halt in discretionary federal construction investments could be quite severe, especially on employment levels in states with a number of federal construction projects underway” Sandherr added.