Forty-four states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs in 2015 while construction employment increased in 39 states and D.C. between November and December amid strong demand for construction in most states, according to analysis of Labor Department data released by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that many of the states experiencing construction declines appear to be energy producing states.
"Construction employment expanded in most parts of the country last year as demand for new projects rebounded," said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer for the association. "The question now is whether declining energy prices will impact construction employment in a larger part of the country this year."
California added the most (59,300 jobs, 8.6 percent) construction jobs between December 2014 and December 2015. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (28,500 jobs, 7.0 percent), New York (26,500 jobs, 7.6 percent) and Colorado (11,700 jobs, 7.9 percent). Hawaii added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year (15.5 percent, 4,800 jobs), closely followed by Iowa (12.9 percent, 10,000 jobs), Arkansas (11.0 percent, 5,200 jobs) and Idaho (11.0 percent, 4,100 jobs).
Six states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months. North Dakota (-8.1 percent, -3,000 jobs) lost the highest percent and total number of construction jobs. Other states that lost jobs for the year include West Virginia (-7.1 percent, -2,300 jobs), New Mexico (-3.5 percent, -1,500 jobs), Wyoming (-1.7 percent, -400 jobs), Rhode Island (-0.6 percent, -100 jobs) and Pennsylvania (-0.2 percent, -500 jobs).
California added the most construction jobs between November and December (11,200 jobs, 1.5 percent). Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include Illinois (6,700 jobs, 3.2 percent), Texas (3,800 jobs, 0.6 percent) and North Carolina (3,200 jobs, 1.7 percent). West Virginia added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month (9.9 percent, 2,700 jobs), followed by Rhode Island (6.5 percent, 1,000 jobs), Delaware (4.2 percent, 900 jobs) and Vermont (3.4 percent, 500 jobs).
Ten states lost construction jobs during the past month while construction employment was unchanged in Louisiana. Pennsylvania shed more construction jobs than any other state (-2,500 jobs, -1.1 percent), followed by Arizona (-1,600 jobs, -1.2 percent), Nevada (-800 jobs, -1.1 percent), Nebraska (-600 jobs, -1.3 percent), Nebraska (-600 jobs, -1.3 percent). Wyoming (-1.7 percent, -400 jobs) lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between November and December, followed by North Dakota (-1.4 percent, -500 jobs), New Mexico, Nebraska and Arizona.
Association officials said the fact so many states added construction jobs last year is a sign that firms are finding a way to expand headcounts to meet rebounding demand for construction. They added that while many firms are optimistic about the construction outlook for 2016, there is no doubt the industry faces a number of challenges this year. Among those challenges are workforce shortages, growing regulatory burdens and the potential impacts of low energy prices in several key construction markets and related market turmoil.
"Considering the fact construction employment is expanding in most parts of the country, it is easy to understand why many contractors are optimistic about 2016," said Sandherr. "Yet the question all of us would like to answer is whether the broader market turmoil will drag down demand for construction this year."