Louisiana Adds Most Jobs During Past Month, Hawaii Adds Highest Percentage; While Most Construction Jobs Are Lost in New York and Wyoming Experiences Highest Monthly Percentage Decrease

Construction employment declined in 25 states between April and May and in 45 states between May 2009 and 2010, according to a new analysis of federal data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.  Construction employment will remain weak despite the short-term stimulus while private, state and local demand for construction remains depressed, association officials noted.

“Construction workers will continue losing jobs until demand for new housing, office, retail and local public construction improves,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.  “Although the stimulus is helping, it is very likely that construction employment has yet to hit bottom in most states.”

Seasonally adjusted construction employment declined in 25 states, improved in 22 and the District of Columbia, and was unchanged in three states, Simonson noted.  He said New York lost the most jobs during the past month (9,800 jobs, 3.1 percent), while Wyoming lost the highest percentage (6.5 percent, 1,500 jobs).  Other states experiencing large monthly construction employment declines included South Dakota (3.8 percent, 800 jobs); Michigan (3.4 percent, 4,200 jobs); and Wisconsin (3.4 percent, 3,500 jobs).

The economist said that Louisiana added the most jobs during the past month (2,400 jobs, 2.0 percent) while Hawaii added the highest percentage (4.1 percent, 1,200 jobs).  Other big gainers included Maine (3.7 percent, 800 jobs); D.C. (3.7 percent, 400 jobs); and West Virginia (2.7 percent, 900 jobs.)

California lost more construction jobs during the past 12 months than any other state (80,900 jobs, 12.8 percent) while Nevada lost the highest percentage (23.0 percent, 18,900 jobs).  Other states experiencing high percentage drops include Washington (15.6 percent, 25,400 jobs); Missouri (15.0 percent, 18,000 jobs); and Vermont (14.7 percent, 2,000 jobs.)

Simonson noted that Kansas added the most construction jobs between May 2009 and May 2010 (3,600 jobs, 6.2 percent).  The other four states to add construction jobs over the past year were North Dakota (5.4 percent, 1,100 jobs); Arkansas (3.0 percent, 1,500 jobs); Alaska (2.5 percent, 400 jobs); and New Hampshire (1.3 percent, 300 jobs).

Association officials said that private, state and local construction employment demand was unlikely to improve until next year at the earliest, given current vacancy rates and public finances.  With economists predicting stimulus work will decline later this year, association officials urged Congress and the Administration to act on a series of long-delayed infrastructure measures.

They noted that passing the 9-months late surface transportation bill will boost employment and provide relief for a construction industry that loses an estimated $23 billion a year to traffic congestion.   “Construction workers shouldn’t have to suffer because Congress is months late in doing its job,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

Click here for the state-by-state construction employment figures.  Click here to watch Stephen Sandherr, contractors and others explain the need for new highway legislation.