Forty-two states added construction jobs between June 2018 and June 2019, while construction employment increased in 30 states from May to June, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials said the new construction employment data demonstrates the need for new federal investments in career and technical education programs, along with immigration reform.
"Construction demand remains robust across most states, and contractors continue to add workers when they can find them," stated chief economist Ken Simonson. "But contractors are struggling to find all the workers they need in many states, as shown the historically high number job openings at the end of May."
California added the most construction jobs over the year (40,300 jobs, 4.7 percent), followed by Texas (39,500 jobs, 5.4 percent), Florida (25,800 jobs, 4.8 percent), Arizona (18,200 jobs, 11.6 percent) and Georgia (12,700 jobs, 6.5 percent). West Virginia added the highest percentage of construction jobs over 12 months (19.8 percent, 8,100 jobs), followed by Wyoming (14.1 percent, 2,800 jobs), Arizona and Alaska (10.3 percent, 1,600 jobs). Construction employment reached a record high in four states: Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.
Eight states shed construction jobs over the latest 12 months, while employment was unchanged in the District of Columbia. Louisiana lost the largest number and percentage of construction jobs (-12,300 jobs, -8.0 percent). Other states with large job losses include Massachusetts (-3,400 jobs, -2.1 percent), Maryland (-2,200 jobs, -1.4 percent), Connecticut (-1,000 jobs, -1.7 percent) and Montana (-800 jobs, -2.8 percent). Other states with a substantial percentage decline include Montana, Vermont (-2.7 percent, -400 jobs), Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maryland.
California added the most construction jobs between May and June (11,900 jobs, 1.3 percent), followed by Texas (6,100 jobs, 0.8 percent), Georgia (2,000 jobs, 1.0 percent), Florida (1,900 jobs, 0.3 percent), and Arizona (1,800 jobs, 1.0 percent). Wyoming added the highest percentage of construction jobs for the month (3.7 percent, 800 jobs), followed by Maine (2.8 percent, 800 jobs), West Virginia (2.3 percent, 1,100 jobs) and Vermont (2.1 percent, 300 jobs).
Construction employment decreased from May to June in 17 states and was flat in Alaska, D.C., New York and Rhode Island. Nevada lost the largest number and percentage of construction jobs for the month (-4,200 jobs, -4.1 percent), followed by Louisiana (-1,800 jobs, -1.3 percent), Connecticut (-1,100 jobs, -1.9 percent), Illinois (-900 jobs, -0.4 percent) and Massachusetts (-900 jobs, -0.6 percent). Other states with a substantial percentage decline for the month included Connecticut, Louisiana, Idaho (-0.6 percent, -300 jobs) and Massachusetts.
Association officials said that with unemployment rates at historic lows in many states, there is an urgent need for Congress and the Trump administration to boost funding for career and technical education programs and enact immigration reforms. These measures would make it easier for schools to set up construction-focused programs while immigration reform will allow more people with construction skills to legally enter the country.
"Contractors are eager to add even more high-paying middle-class jobs if they could only find more qualified workers to hire," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "The federal government should make it easier to prepare and attract more people into construction. Such steps will provide significant benefits to the broader economy."