Thirty-two states added construction jobs between August and September, and an equal number boosted construction employment during the past twelve months, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America on Oct. 21. Association officials said the job gains were welcome news, but that significant labor shortages in the industry likely held back even larger employment gains.
“While it is encouraging to see construction employment expanding in a majority of states, it is tempting to imagine how much higher those gains would have been if contractors could find enough workers to hire,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. Sandherr noted that a recent survey by the association found 91 percent of firms are having a hard time finding workers to hire.
Florida added the most construction jobs (6,900 jobs, 1.2 percent) between August and September, followed by New York (4,200 jobs, 1.1 percent), Virginia (3,300 jobs, 1.6 percent), Michigan (3,200 jobs, 1.8 percent) and Ohio (2,100 jobs, 0.9 percent). North Dakota had the highest percentage increase (4.6 percent, 1,300 jobs) in construction employment for the month, followed by Kansas (2.4 percent, 1,600 jobs), Connecticut (2.1 percent, 1,300 jobs) and Wyoming (1.9 percent, 400 jobs).
Among the 15 states and Washington, D.C. to lose the most construction jobs between August and September, New Jersey lost the most (-2,700 jobs, -1.7 percent). Other states losing a high number of construction jobs included Texas (-2,600 jobs, -0.3 percent), Alabama (-2,500 jobs, -2.4 percent) and Arizona (-1,700 jobs, -0.9 percent). Alabama had the highest monthly percent decline in construction employment, followed by Vermont (-2 percent, -300 jobs), New Jersey and Oklahoma (-1.1 percent, -900 jobs). Three states had no change in their construction employment levels for the month.
Florida added the most construction jobs (8,900 jobs, 1.5 percent) between September 2021 and September 2022, followed by Utah (4,700 jobs, 3.6 percent), Massachusetts (4,700 jobs, 2.7 percent) and New York (4,600 jobs, 1.2 percent). North Dakota had the highest rate of growth (7.2 percent, 2,000 jobs), followed by Utah, Connecticut (3.3 percent, 2,000 jobs) and West Virginia (3.1 percent, 1,000 jobs).
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs during the past 12 months. Texas lost the most construction jobs (-2,900 jobs, -0.4 percent) for the year, followed by Louisiana (-1,600 jobs, -1.2 percent), South Carolina (-1,500 jobs, -1.5 percent), Maryland (-1,400 jobs, -0.9 percent) and Oklahoma (-1,400 jobs, -1.8 percent). Mississippi had the fastest rate of construction job losses (-1.9 percent, -900 jobs) for the year, followed by Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming (-1.4 percent, -300 jobs).
Sandherr urged Congress and the Biden administration to boost funding for career and technical education programs. He also called for measures to allow more people with construction skills to lawfully work as a short-term measure to relieve labor shortages. “This industry needs more workers to help hard-hit communities rebuild, improve infrastructure and modernize our energy and manufacturing sectors,” Sandherr said.