Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between September 2018 and September 2019, while construction employment increased in 28 states from August to September, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials said that it is likely additional states would have added new construction jobs if firms could find more qualified workers to hire.
"Although evidence is mounting that the overall economy is slowing, contractors in most states are still eager to hire," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "But they are unable to find qualified workers in some cases, and job openings in construction have soared as unemployment rates are at historic lows in many states."
Texas added the most construction jobs over the year (52,000 jobs, 7.0 percent), followed by California (30,400 jobs, 3.5 percent), Arizona (16,500 jobs, 10.2 percent), Florida (16,200 jobs, 2.9 percent), and Nevada (11,100 jobs, 12.3 percent). Nevada added the highest percentage of construction jobs over 12 months, followed by Arizona, New Mexico (8.7 percent, 4,100 jobs), New Hampshire (7.8 percent, 2,100 jobs), Texas and Indiana (7.0 percent, 9,800 jobs). Construction employment reached a record high in Nebraska, Texas and Washington.
Eleven states shed construction jobs over the latest 12 months. Louisiana lost the largest number and percentage of construction jobs (-10,600 jobs, -7.0 percent). Other states with large job losses include Ohio (-7,600 jobs, -3.4 percent), Connecticut (-1,800 jobs, -3.1 percent), Tennessee (-1,300 jobs, -1.0 percent), Massachusetts (-1,200 jobs, -0.8 percent) and North Carolina (-1,200 jobs, -0.5 percent). Other states with a substantial percentage decline include Vermont (-6.0 percent, -900 jobs), Ohio, Montana (-3.4 percent, -1,000 jobs) and Connecticut.
Texas added the most construction jobs between August and September (7,200 jobs, 0.9 percent), followed by Arizona (2,200 jobs, 1.3 percent), Indiana (1,700 jobs, 1.1¬¬ percent), Wisconsin (1,700 jobs, 1.4 percent), Nevada (1,600 jobs, 1.6 percent) and Florida (1,500 jobs, 0.3 percent). Hawaii added the highest percentage of construction jobs for the month (2.7 percent, 1,000 jobs), followed by Idaho (2.2 percent, 1,100 jobs), Nevada, Arkansas (1.5 percent, 800 jobs), New Hampshire (1.4 percent, 400 jobs), and Wisconsin.
Construction employment decreased from August to September in 22 states and was flat in D.C. Virginia lost the largest number of construction jobs for the month (-3,200 jobs, -1.6 percent), followed by Ohio (-1,700 jobs, -0.8 percent), Pennsylvania (-1,500 jobs, -0.6 percent) and Missouri (-1,100 jobs, -0.9 percent). North Dakota had the largest percentage decline for the month (-3.2 percent, -900 jobs), followed by Virginia, Wyoming (-1.4 percent, -300 jobs) and Rhode Island (-1.0 percent, -200 jobs).
Association officials said that 80 percent of construction firms that responded to the association's recent workforce survey reported having a hard time finding qualified workers to hire. They urged federal leaders to increase funding for career and technical education and allow more immigrants to legally enter the country.
"Investing in more career and technical education programs, especially in high schools, would encourage and prepare even more young adults to pursue high-paying construction careers," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "Without new measures to develop the construction workforce, our economy will continue to suffer from missed opportunities."