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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.

Flagstaff lost the highest percentage of construction jobs

Flagstaff Tops The Nation In Percentage of Construction Jobs Lost

Flagstaff lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between July 2009 and July of this year, as 276 of 337 metro areas nationally saw declines, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.

Flagstaff lost 700 construction jobs, a 32 percent dip from last year. The Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area lost the most construction jobs — 32,900, or 23 percent.

Statewide, Arizona lost 13,900 construction jobs (down 114,000 from 128,000), an 11 percent decrease. It was a decrease of 54 percent from the state’s peak in 2006, according to the AGCA.

The Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area lost 8,600 construction jobs (down 86,600 from 95,200), a 9 percent loss; and Tucson lost 2,300 construction jobs (down 14,200 from 16,500), for a 14 percent dip. Yuma fared the best, experiencing just a 7 percent loss.

The employment figures, based on an analysis of federal employment data, demonstrate the widespread decline in demand for construction services that continues to outpace stimulus-funded work, association officials say.

“There is no doubt that we have seen an increase in stimulus activity this summer,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Unfortunately, that increase in stimulus activity is largely being overshadowed by continuing declines in overall demand for construction that are likely to persist well into next year.”

Other areas experiencing large declines in construction employment are: Las Vegas (14,800 jobs, 24 percent); Houston (14,700 jobs, 8 percent); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale (10,700 jobs, 9 percent); and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett (10,400 jobs, 14 percent).

Simonson says that 31 metro areas actually added construction jobs over the past 12 months, while another 30 areas experienced no change in construction employment.

The construction economist said the impacts of the stimulus can be seen in the fact that many of the construction employment declines metro areas are experiencing are less severe than just a month ago. The year-over-year construction employment declines in cities such as Las Vegas, Houston and Seattle are less severe than the figures recorded in June, Simonson adds. However, he says that too few cities were adding construction jobs to have any widespread impact on construction employment.

“As much as we would hate to see how much worse the construction employment figures would be without the stimulus, the fact is our industry is continuing to suffer even as some areas of the economy have begun to expand,” says Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “And with regular, long-term infrastructure bills stalled in Congress, it looks like construction workers will have little opportunity to continue rebuilding our economy.”