Thirty-nine states added construction jobs between March 2016 and March 2017 while 17 states added construction jobs between February and March, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data released. Association officials noted that contractors in most states remain busy for now but worry about not being able to find enough workers to complete projects in the future.
"Construction job gains were much less widespread in March after unseasonably mild weather boosted hiring in more states than usual in February," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. "Only Massachusetts and Texas set new records for construction employment in March, following a month in which construction employment reached all-time highs in five states."
California added the most construction jobs (42,200 jobs, 5.5 percent) during the past year. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (36,500 jobs, 7.9 percent); Texas (18,900 jobs, 2.7 percent); and Washington (12,200 jobs, 6.7 percent). Oregon added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year (9.2 percent, 8,200 jobs), followed by Nevada (8.3 percent, 6,200 jobs), Rhode Island (8.2 percent, 1,500 jobs) and Florida.
Ten states and the District of Columbia shed construction jobs between March 2016 and March 2017. Employment was unchanged in Montana. Illinois lost the highest number of construction jobs (-4,900 jobs, -2.2 percent), followed by Mississippi (-4,800 jobs, -10.4 percent) and Iowa (-2,000 jobs, -2.4 percent). Mississippi lost the highest percentage for the year, followed by D.C. (-9.3 percent, -1,500 jobs) and Alaska (-6.6 percent, -1,100 jobs).
California added the most construction jobs between February and March (18,900 jobs, 2.4 percent). Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include Georgia (4,700 jobs, 2.6 percent); Texas (4,000 jobs, 0.6 percent); Virginia (2,100 jobs, 1.1 percent) and Florida (1,900 jobs, 0.4 percent). New Mexico added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month (3.4 percent, 1,500 jobs), followed by Georgia; California; Maine (2.0 percent, 600 jobs) and Nevada.
Construction employment declined in 30 states and D.C. during the past month and was unchanged in Montana, North Dakota and Wisconsin. Illinois shed more construction jobs than any other state (-7,100 jobs, -3.2 percent), followed by Louisiana (-6,700 jobs, -4.4 percent); and Maryland (-4,500 jobs, -2.7 percent). Alaska lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between February and March (-4.9 percent, -800 jobs); followed by Louisiana and Missouri (-2.9 percent, -3,600 jobs).
Association officials said that more contractors are quoting longer completion times or passing up opportunities to bid on new projects as ways of coping with shortages of available qualified workers. The association urged federal, state and local officials to act promptly on measures outlined in the association's Workforce Development plan to open up more career and technical education opportunities, especially for high school students.
"More high school students should know that construction offers above-average starting pay, steady work and good career advancement," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "Increasingly, workers get to use cutting-edge technology such as drones, virtual- or mixed-reality devices and GPS- or laser-guided tools."