Construction job growth rebounded in October as 43 states and the District of Columbia recorded employment increases from a year earlier, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials cautioned, however, that sustaining such widespread job gains will require support at all levels of government for construction training programs.
"Construction job gains were more widespread than at any time since last February," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. "Several states that had recently experienced year-over-year job losses began adding workers, while net employment gains accelerated in numerous other states."
In the past 12 months construction spending rose 14%, the fastest clip since 2006, Simonson noted. He said the spending data suggests contractors will continue to expand hiring if they can find qualified workers. But he cautioned that may be difficult in many states because the number of unemployed jobseekers in October who last worked in construction was at the lowest October level since 2006.
California added the most new construction jobs (49,800 jobs, 7.3%) between October 2014 and October 2015. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include New York, Florida, and Washington. Arkansas (18.1%, 8,200 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Idaho, Kansas, and Nevada.
Seven states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months. West Virginia (-17.3%, -5,800 jobs) lost the highest percent and total number of construction jobs. Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs for the year include Rhode Island, Minnesota, Indiana, and New Mexico.
New York (7,800 jobs, 2.2%) added the most construction jobs between September and October. Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include California, Ohio, and Colorado. Idaho (4.6%, 1,800 jobs) and Montana (4.6%, 1,100 jobs) both added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month, followed by Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Ohio.
Thirteen states lost construction jobs during the past month while construction employment was unchanged in two states and the District of Columbia. Florida (-5,500 jobs, -1.3%) shed more construction jobs than any other state, followed by Pennsylvania and Minnesota. Alaska (-4.8%, -900 jobs) lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between September and October, followed by West Virginia and Minnesota.
Association officials urged leaders at all levels of government to put in place measures to make it easier for school districts, local associations, and firms to establish construction recruitment and training programs, along the lines of the steps outlined in the association's Workforce Development Plan.
"Construction firms won't be able to keep adding jobs at their current pace if there aren't enough qualified workers available to hire," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer.
To view the state employment data by rank, go here.