New Data Reports that Construction Employment Has Increased in 29 States

The Labor Department says that between August 2018 and August 2019, the construction industry saw an increase in jobs, particularly in states like Texas and Florida.

In early October, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) released its analysis of Labor Department data on employment in the construction industry. With recent concerns about a workforce shortage in construction, the influx of jobs in the last year is a positive trend.

The analysis found that 39 states, including the District of Columbia, added construction jobs between August 2018 and August 2019, and construction employment increased in 29 states from July to August of 2019. Association officials suspect that the lack of increase in construction jobs in September of 2019 could be due to overall workforce shortages.

The shortage, it seems, could be due to the fact that there are simply not enough people to hire. The association’s chief economist, Ken Simonson, said the following: “Even more states probably would have posted gains in construction employment if firms could find enough people to hire…They are finding most craft positions hard to fill, even though average pay in construction pays is higher than the all-industry average in nearly every state.”

The following results show the trends in construction over the past year and which states showed the most adjustment.

States that added the most construction jobs from most to least. Texas added the most construction jobs over the year (43,900 jobs, 5.9%), followed by California (34,300 jobs, 4.0%), Florida (20,900 jobs, 3.8%), and Arizona (15,400 jobs, 9.7%). North Dakota added the highest percentage of construction jobs over 12 months (12.1%, 3,100 jobs), followed by Nevada (11.7%, 10,500 jobs), Arizona, and New Mexico (9.2%, 4,300 jobs). Construction employment reached a record high in Nebraska and Texas.

States that shed construction jobs over the last year from most to least. Ten states shed construction jobs over the latest 12 months, while employment was flat in Mississippi. Louisiana lost the largest number and percentage of construction jobs (-10,100 jobs, -6.6%). Other states with large job losses include Ohio (-3,600 jobs, -1.6%), Maryland (-1,600 jobs, -1%), Vermont (-1,000 jobs, -6.6%) and Connecticut (-1,000 jobs, -1.7%). Other states with a substantial percentage decline include Vermont, Montana (-2.1%, -600 jobs), Connecticut, and Ohio.

States that added the most construction jobs between July and August from most to least. Florida added the most construction jobs between July and August (4,100 jobs, 0.7%), followed by New York (3,000 jobs, 0.7%), Nevada (2,400 jobs, 2.5%), Missouri (2,300 jobs, 1.9%), and Texas (2,200 jobs, 0.3%). Nevada added the highest percentage of construction jobs for the month, followed by Missouri, South Carolina (1.8%, 1,800 jobs), New Hampshire (1.8%, 500 jobs), and Nebraska (1.7%, 900 jobs).

The AGC says contractors nationwide are brainstorming ways to combat the workforce shortage in the construction industry. Ideas for industry changes include increasing pay, expanding training programs, and setting more goals for efficiency. While they are working to mitigate the issue, they also recognize that many firms experiencing labor shortages are suffering issues with construction schedules and costs as a result.

They say they cannot combat the issue internally, though. Association officials also urged Congress to pass measures to boost career and technical education and provide a lawful way for more immigrants with skills in construction to enter the country.

"Few other jobs can match construction wages without requiring a costly college education,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. “Construction firms are taking steps to cope with workforce shortages, but federal officials could help by increasing investments in career and technical education, passing the Jobs Act, and enabling more people with construction experience to legally enter the U.S."

View the state employment data by rank and state. View the state map.

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