Construction Employment Declines in Half of the States Between May and June as Congress Seeks New Way to Pay for Needed Transportation Upgrades
Illinois and Rhode Island Have Biggest Declines for the Month, Delaware and New York Have Largest Gains between May and June; Ohio and West Virginia Have Biggest Annual Declines, Idaho and California Add Most
Construction employment declined in 25 states between May and June even as 39 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between June 2014 and June 2015, according to an analysis today of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the monthly construction employment declines come as Congress continues to search for ways to pay for new highway and transit investments.
“While the year-over-year totals remains relatively positive, the monthly construction employment figures are troubling,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Investing in transportation infrastructure will make it easier for many firms involved in highway and transit construction to add new staff.”
Illinois (-4,700 jobs, -2.2 percent) shed more construction jobs during the past month than any other state, followed by New Jersey (-4,600 jobs, -3.0 percent); Ohio (-3,700 jobs, -1.9 percent) and Florida (-3,100 jobs, -0.7 percent). Rhode Island (-4.5 percent, -700 jobs) list the highest percentage of construction jobs between May and June, followed by Vermont (-3.3 percent, -500 jobs); New Jersey and New Mexico (-2.7 percent, -1,100 jobs).
Twenty-four states added construction jobs between May and June, while construction employment was unchanged in Wyoming and the District of Columbia. New York (3,300 jobs, 0.9 percent) added the most construction jobs. Other states adding a high number of construction jobs included Minnesota (2,600 jobs, 2.4 percent) and Connecticut (2,200 jobs, 3.8 percent). Delaware (4.3 percent, 900 jobs) added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month followed by Connecticut, Hawaii (3.7 percent, 1,200 jobs) and Arkansas (3.5 percent, 1,700 jobs).
Eleven states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months with West Virginia (-12.8 percent, -4,300 jobs) losing the highest percent of construction jobs. Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs for the year included Rhode Island (-9.6 percent, -1,600 jobs); Mississippi (-7.9 percent, -3,900 jobs) and Ohio (-7.9 percent, -3,900 jobs). The largest job losses occurred in Ohio, West Virginia and Mississippi.
California added more new construction jobs (47,000 jobs, 7.0 percent) between June 2014 and June 2015 than any other state. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included Florida (25,200 jobs, 6.4 percent), Texas (18,900 jobs, 2.9 percent), Washington (15,300 jobs, 9.7 percent) and Michigan (14,000 jobs, 9.8 percent). Idaho (12.9 percent, 4,600 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Nevada (11.1 percent, 7,000 jobs); Michigan; Arkansas (9.7 percent, 4,400 jobs) and North Carolina.
Association officials said one of the challenges facing the construction industry is uncertainty about future federal funding levels for highway and transit repairs and improvements. Noting that the Senate is expected to vote on a new long-term surface transportation bill later today, they urged members of both parties to work together to address growing problems with the country’s aging transportation infrastructure.
“Passing a long-term highway and transit bill will provide the kind of funding certainty many construction firms need to expand payrolls and invest in new equipment,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The series of short-term transportation funding extensions Congress has passed has clearly had a negative impact on the construction industry’s recovery.”