Construction employment increased in 44 states in March from a year earlier, while only 20 states added construction jobs from February to March, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America on April 21. Association officials said most contractors report they are still eager to hire but have been stymied by a lack of qualified applicants. They urged officials in Washington to strengthen employment-based immigration and fund more career and technical education.

“A one-two punch from a pullback in homebuilding and unusually severe weather, especially in California, caused employment to drop in most states from February to March,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Construction employment continued to expand almost everywhere in March compared to a year ago, as demand for apartments, nonresidential building and infrastructure remains strong in many states.”

Between March 2022 and 2023, 44 states added construction jobs, while industry employment declined in five states and held steady in North Dakota and the District of Columbia. Texas added the most jobs over the year (41,200 jobs, 5.4 percent), followed by New York (18,200 jobs, 4.7 percent), Florida (15,100 jobs, 2.6 percent) and Indiana (10,800 jobs, 7 percent). Rhode Island had the largest percentage increase (11.9 percent, 2,500 jobs), followed by Nevada (8.2 percent, 8,500 jobs), Montana (7.5 percent, 2,700 jobs) and Nebraska (7.5 percent, 4,300 jobs). California lost the most jobs (-7,300 jobs, -0.8 percent), while West Virginia had the largest percentage loss (-7.5 percent, -2,500 jobs). Losses also occurred in Colorado (-1,800 jobs, -1 percent), Connecticut (-1,800 jobs, -2.9 percent) and South Dakota (-300 jobs, -1.2 percent).

For the month, construction employment increased in 20 states and Washington, D.C., declined in 27 states and held steady in Rhode Island, Alaska and North Dakota. Texas added the most jobs over the month (5,800 jobs, 0.7 percent), followed by Kentucky (2,600 jobs, 3.1 percent), Massachusetts (1,900 jobs, 1.1 percent) and Louisiana (1,100 jobs, 0.8 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Kentucky, followed by Washington, D.C. (2.6 percent, 500 jobs), Delaware (2.1 percent, 500 jobs) and New Hampshire (1.7 percent, 500 jobs).

California experienced the largest decline in construction jobs in March (-8,200 jobs, -0.9 percent), followed by Washington (-3,600 jobs, -1.5 percent) and Florida (-2,300 jobs, -0.4 percent). Connecticut had the largest percentage loss for the month (-2.9 percent, -1,800 jobs), followed by Washington.

Association officials said demand remains strong for massive manufacturing construction projects in numerous states, while infrastructure and energy construction are expected to boom in the next few years, but the industry will need more skilled workers to produce these facilities. They called on officials in Washington to allow more employment-based immigration and to increase funding for career and technical education to enable more Americans to gain the skills needed for rewarding construction careers.

“There’s an immediate need for workers that can’t be satisfied domestically,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “At the same time, Washington should help more Americans prepare for the expanding opportunities in construction by providing adequate funding for career and technical programs.”