Thirty-nine states added construction jobs between August 2018 and August 2019, while construction employment increased in 29 states from July to August, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials said that construction workforce shortages identified in a survey the association released last month may have kept more states from adding construction jobs this past month.
"Even more states probably would have posted gains in construction employment if firms could find enough people to hire," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "They are finding most craft positions hard to fill, even though average pay in construction pays is higher than the all-industry average in nearly every state."
Texas added the most construction jobs over the year (43,900 jobs, 5.9 percent), followed by California (34,300 jobs, 4.0 percent), Florida (20,900 jobs, 3.8 percent), and Arizona (15,400 jobs, 9.7 percent). North Dakota added the highest percentage of construction jobs over 12 months (12.1 percent, 3,100 jobs), followed by Nevada (11.7 percent, 10,500 jobs), Arizona, and New Mexico (9.2 percent, 4,300 jobs). Construction employment reached a record high in Nebraska and Texas.
Ten states shed construction jobs over the latest 12 months, while employment was flat in Mississippi. Louisiana lost the largest number and percentage of construction jobs (10,100 jobs, -6.6 percent). Other states with large job losses include Ohio (-3,600 jobs, -1.6 percent), Maryland (-1,600 jobs, -1 percent), Vermont (-1,000 jobs, -6.6 percent) and Connecticut (-1,000 jobs, -1.7 percent). Other states with a substantial percentage decline include Vermont, Montana (-2.1 percent, -600 jobs), Connecticut, and Ohio.
Florida added the most construction jobs between July and August (4,100 jobs, 0.7 percent), followed by New York (3,000 jobs, 0.7 percent), Nevada (2,400 jobs, 2.5 percent), Missouri (2,300 jobs, 1.9 percent), and Texas (2,200 jobs, 0.3 percent). Nevada added the highest percentage of construction jobs for the month, followed by Missouri, South Carolina (1.8 percent, 1,800 jobs), New Hampshire (1.8 percent, 500 jobs), and Nebraska (1.7 percent, 900 jobs).
Construction employment decreased from July to August in 21 states and was flat in D.C. Tennessee lost the largest number of construction jobs for the month (-1,900 jobs, -1.5 percent), followed by California (-1,700 jobs, -0.2 percent), Oklahoma (-1,100 jobs, -1.3 percent), Mississippi (-900 jobs, -2 percent) and Michigan (-800 jobs, -0.5 percent). Wyoming had the largest percentage decline for the month (-3.1 percent, -700 jobs), followed by Mississippi, West Virginia (-1.7 percent, -800 jobs), Vermont (-1.4 percent, -200 jobs), and Oklahoma.
Association officials said contractors across the nation are taking steps to alleviate labor shortages, including hiking pay, expanding training programs and becoming more efficient. But they cautioned that many firms report labor shortages are affecting construction schedules and costs. They urged Congress to pass measures to boost career and technical education and provide a lawful way for more immigrants with construction skills to enter the country.
"Few other jobs can match construction wages without requiring a costly college education," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "Construction firms are taking steps to cope with workforce shortages, but federal officials could help by increasing investments in career and technical education, passing the Jobs Act and enabling more people with construction experience to legally enter the U.S."