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Arizona leads nation in Construction Employment

Arizona Leads Way As Construction Employment Expands In 29 States

Construction employment expanded in 29 states between September and October with Arizona leading the way, the Associated General Contractors of America reported in an analysis of state employment data released today by the Labor Department.

The new figures continue a nearly year-long trend of ups and downs in construction employment as the industry performs stimulus-funded work yet grapples with broad market uncertainty.

“Considering that most states adding construction jobs in October had shed workers in September, it is safe to say that construction employment remains volatile,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Construction is no longer in free fall, but the industry remains fragile as improvements vary greatly by state and project type.”

Arizona (4.4 percent, 5,000 jobs) experienced the largest one-month seasonally adjusted percentage increase and Texas (2.3 percent, 8,800 jobs) the largest one-month total increase in construction employment between September and October.

Other states adding large numbers of construction jobs during October included Illinois (1.5 percent, 3,000 jobs); Washington (2.1 percent, 3,000 jobs); South Carolina (3.2 percent, 2,500 jobs); and Colorado (1.6 percent, 1,800 jobs).

Simonson noted 20 states plus the District of Columbia lost construction jobs during the past month, while construction employment remained unchanged in Rhode Island. Minnesota (-2.7 percent, -2,300 jobs) lost the highest percent of construction jobs for the month while Florida lost the most jobs (-2.4 percent, -8,600 jobs). Among other states losing construction jobs between September and October were Pennsylvania (-1.0 percent, -2,200 jobs); Maryland (-1.3 percent, -1,900 jobs); Georgia (-1.2 percent, -1,800 jobs); and Massachusetts (-1.4 percent, -1,500 jobs).

Eleven states and D.C. added construction jobs for the year, Simonson added. The largest year-over-year percentage increase was in Kansas, where construction employment rose 9.0 percent (5,100 jobs), followed by Oklahoma (8.1 percent, 5,400 jobs); Arkansas (5.1 percent, 2,600 jobs); D.C. (4.6 percent, 500 jobs); and West Virginia (3.3 percent, 1,100 jobs).

Among the 39 states that lost construction jobs over the past 12 months, Nevada experienced the largest percentage decline (-19.5 percent, -14,500) while California lost the most jobs (-45,700, -7.9 percent). Other states experiencing large declines for the year include Idaho (-15.2 percent, -5,000 jobs); Vermont (-13.4 percent, -1,800 jobs); Montana (-10.5 percent, -2,500 jobs); and Missouri (-10.3 percent, -11,900 jobs).

Association officials said that temporary stimulus funding has helped the industry, but that most firms were worried about business levels for next year. They added that private, state and local demand for construction remains weak, while long-term federal infrastructure programs and tax rates remain in limbo. “We won’t see sustained job growth until the private sector picks up and long-term federal plans are clear,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO.

Construction Declines in 31 States

Construction Employment Declines In 31 States

Construction employment declined in 31 states between August and September with fewer people working in that field compared to last year in 40 states, the Associated General Contractors of America reported in an analysis of state employment data released today by the Labor Department.

Construction employment is likely to continue to worsen amid uncertainty about federal spending and tax rates for next year, association officials noted.

Arizona lost 700 construction jobs during that period. Compared to the same period last year, Arizona has lost 4,400 construction jobs.

“Construction firms are caught between a difficult present and an uncertain future,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Looking ahead, nobody knows what will happen to the only thing keeping the current market from getting worse, federal spending, as long-term water, energy and transportation spending programs remain in limbo.”

Simonson noted that Rhode Island (-2.9 percent, -500 jobs) lost the highest percent of construction jobs for the month while California lost the most jobs (-2.5 percent, -13,300 jobs). Among other states losing construction jobs between August and September were Texas (-1.2 percent, -7,000 jobs), New York (-1.8 percent, 5,800 jobs), Ohio (-2.5 percent, -4,400 jobs), and Pennsylvania (-1.1 percent, -2,500 jobs).

Hawaii (4.9 percent, 1,400 jobs) and Minnesota (3.8 percent, 3,100 jobs) experienced the largest one-month percentage increase in construction employment between August and September. Besides those two states, another 13 and the District of Columbia added jobs, while construction employment was unchanged in four states. Other states with increases in construction employment included Florida (0.5 percent, 1,700 jobs), Georgia (1.0 percent, 1,500 jobs), Washington (0.8 percent, 1,100 jobs) and Illinois (0.4 percent, 700 jobs).

Simonson noted that nine states and D.C. added construction jobs for the year while employment in Alaska was unchanged. The largest year-over-year increase was in Oklahoma, where construction employment rose 9.8 percent (6,500 jobs), followed by Kansas (8.9 percent, 5,000 jobs), New Hampshire (8.0 percent, 1,800 jobs), the District of Columbia (4.5 percent, 500 jobs), and Arkansas (3.5 percent, 1,800 jobs).

Among the 40 states that lost construction jobs over the past twelve months, Nevada experienced the largest percentage decline (-19.3 percent, -14,200) in jobs while California lost the most jobs (-50,700, -8.8 percent). Other states experiencing large declines for the year include Vermont (-14.1 percent, -1,900 jobs), Idaho (-12.3 percent, -4,000), Colorado (-11.5 percent, -14,200 jobs), and Kentucky (-9.8 percent, -7,000 jobs).

Association officials cautioned that construction employment will continue to stagnate as firms, already coping with depressed private, state and local demand, contend with an uncertain federal marketplace. Adding to the confusion, officials said, was that tax rates for most small construction firms have also not been set for next year. “Adding uncertainty and confusion into an already bleak market is a good way to keep construction workers out of a job,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

Construction at an All Time Low

National Construction Employment Near 14-Year Low

The number of people working in construction is approaching a 14-year low now that the industry lost 21,000 jobs in September, while construction unemployment is at a September high of 17.2 percent, according to an analysis of federal employment figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

The construction industry continues to suffer from declining investments in construction and broad uncertainty about the future of many federal infrastructure programs and tax rates, association officials noted.

“It has taken less than four years to erase a decade’s worth of job gains as the industry suffers from declining private, state and local construction demand,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “No other sector of the economy has suffered as much for as long as construction.”

Simonson noted that the 5.6 million people working in construction today is barely higher than the 5.59 million people who were working in construction in August 1996. He added that construction employment continued to lag behind other sectors of the economy. For example, while total private employment rose by 593,000 during the past 12 months, the construction industry lost 210,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the industry’s unemployment rate is nearly double the unadjusted national rate of 9.2 percent.

Most of September’s construction job losses came from the nonresidential sector as demand for commercial facilities and infrastructure projects remains weak, Simonson noted. Residential construction lost 2,500 jobs last month while nonresidential construction lost 18,100 jobs. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors were the hardest hit, having lost 19,500 jobs in September, the economist added.

Association officials noted that construction spending figures released late last month show private, state and local construction spending continues to decline. And while federal spending has increased, most of those investments have come from temporary programs like the stimulus and military base realignment programs.

While these temporary federal programs have helped the industry, many contractors are reluctant to expand payrolls while long-term federal programs that fund highway, transit, water system and aviation related construction remain in limbo, association officials said. They added that most contractors don’t even know what their tax rates will be for next year.

“Construction firms aren’t going to start hiring again until they can predict how busy they’ll be,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Frankly it is hard for contractors to make any business decisions when they don’t know how much they’ll make or how much they’ll owe.”