Construction employment increased in just half the states plus Washington, D.C., from June 2011 to June 2012, but declined in a slim majority of states in the past month, according to an analysis of U.S. Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America. “The latest state data show again how fragile and fragmentary the construction recovery is,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Although private sector demand for structures has risen in most states, improvement in single-family homebuilding is spotty and public investment is shrinking.”
Simonson noted that 25 states and Washington, D.C., added construction jobs between June 2011 and June 2012, while construction employment fell in 25 states. Washington, D.C., added the highest percentage of new construction jobs for the year (17.8%, 2,100 jobs), followed by North Dakota (16.2%, 3,800 jobs) and Montana (14.6%, 3,300 jobs). California added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months (27,200, 5.0%), followed by Texas (24,400, 4.4%) and Arizona (11,200, 10.2%).
The economist said that among states that lost construction jobs during the past year, Alaska lost the highest percentage (-20.5%, -3,200 jobs), followed by Wisconsin (-11.1%, -10,200 jobs) and Mississippi (-9.7%, -4,700 jobs). Florida lost the most jobs (-24,600, -7.4%), followed by New York (-12,500, -4.1%), Wisconsin and Illinois (-9,900, -5.1%).
Less positively, only 18 states plus Washington, D.C., added construction jobs between May and June, while construction employment decreased in 27 states and held steady in five. The highest percentage gains for the month occurred in D.C. (7.8%, 1,000 jobs), followed by North Dakota (2.6%, 700 jobs) and Montana (2.4%, 600 jobs). Texas added the most jobs during the month (9,600, 1.7%), followed by California (8,100, 1.4%) and Ohio (3,500, 2.0%).
South Dakota had the steepest percentage decline among states that lost construction jobs for the month (-5.2%, -1,100 jobs), followed by Arkansas (-3.7%, -1,700 jobs) and Iowa (-3.4%, -2,300 jobs). The largest number of construction job losses in June occurred in Florida (-5,300, -1.7%), followed by Iowa and Massachusetts (-2,100, -2.0%).
Association officials warned that construction employment was likely to stagnate or shrink in more states if federal and state officials continue to cut investments in public infrastructure and buildings. "Ongoing cuts to vital infrastructure, school and university investments are hurting the overall economy, our future competitiveness and causing hardship for too many construction workers,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's CEO. “Budget discipline should not come at the expense of slashing essential investments.”