Construction employment increased in 45 states and the District of Columbia in July from a year earlier, while 27 states added construction employees from June to July, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released Aug. 18 by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said recent job gains would be more widespread if government officials helped more people prepare for construction careers.

“Construction job gains were nearly ubiquitous over the past year,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “While barely half the states added construction employees in July, that is due to the sector’s ultra-low unemployment rate. There is still plenty of demand, as shown by near-record construction job openings.”

Between July 2022 and 2023, 45 states and D.C. added construction jobs, while industry employment declined in four states and held steady in Vermont. Texas added the most construction jobs over the year (25,200 jobs, or 3.2 percent), followed by California (13,800 jobs, 1.5 percent), Ohio (13,100 jobs, 5.6 percent) and Georgia (10,200 jobs, 4.8 percent). Arkansas had the largest percentage increase in construction jobs over 12 months (10.1 percent, 5,800 jobs), followed by Wyoming (7.6 percent, 1,600 jobs), Nebraska (7.4 percent, 4,300 jobs), Oregon (7.2 percent, 8,400 jobs) and Kentucky (7.2 percent, 6,000 jobs).

Colorado lost the most jobs (-3,000 jobs, -1.6 percent), followed by Missouri (-1,200 jobs, -0.9 percent), North Dakota (-400 jobs, -1.6 percent) and Maine (-200 jobs, -0.6 percent). North Dakota and Colorado had the largest percentage loss, followed by Missouri and Maine.

For the month, construction employment increased in 27 states and D.C., declined in 22 states and was unchanged in New Mexico. Texas added the most jobs over the month (4,700 jobs, 0.6 percent), followed by Florida (4,000 jobs, 0.7 percent), Ohio (3,400 jobs, 1.4 percent), New Jersey (2,400 jobs, 1.4 percent) and Nebraska (1,900 jobs, 3.1 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in Nebraska, followed by Alaska (2.5 percent, 400 jobs), Connecticut (2.3 percent, 1,400 jobs) and Kansas (2.1 percent, 1,400 jobs).

Washington experienced the largest decline in construction jobs in July (-2,500 jobs, -1 percent), followed by Pennsylvania (-1,000 jobs, -0.4 percent), Louisiana (-1,000 jobs, -0.7 percent) and Maine (-900 jobs, -2.7 percent). Maine had the largest percentage loss for the month, followed by Washington.

Association officials called for a two-pronged approach to alleviate persistent shortages of qualified workers. They urged federal officials to provide short-term relief by creating a temporary work visa program for people with construction skills. Public officials also need to address the significant federal funding gap that exists between programs to encourage students to go to college and those that expose students to career opportunities in fields like construction.

“The federal government’s current approach essentially steers students away from pursuing construction careers while simultaneously blocking people from entering the country to work in the industry,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Instead, Congress and the administration should immediately boost funding for career and technical education and create a path for people to lawfully enter the country and work in construction.”