Thirty-six states lost construction jobs between January 2010 and January 2011, even as more states added construction jobs than lost them between December and January, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Arlington, Va., reported in an analysis of state employment data released recently by the U.S. Department of Labor. Association officials caution that despite the increase in monthly employment, the construction industry is still facing severe economic headwinds.

“It is encouraging to see more states adding jobs instead of losing them between December and January,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Yet despite those monthly gains, we’re still a long way from seeing the kind of construction employment figures states experienced in 2006 and 2007.”

The largest percentage drop in construction employment for the year occurred in Nevada (-12.9%, -8,400 jobs), followed by Georgia (-12.5%, -19,100 jobs); Wisconsin (-8.2%, -8,000 jobs); and Kentucky (-8.2%, 5,700 jobs). Florida lost the most construction jobs over the past 12 months (-24,000 jobs, -6.7%). Other states experiencing large overall declines in construction employment included Georgia; North Carolina (-13,900 jobs, 7.7%); and New York (-12,500 jobs, -4.0%).

Simonson notes 14 states and Washing added construction jobs between January 2010 and January 2011. Texas added the largest number of construction jobs for the year (33,400 jobs, 5.9%). Other states adding large numbers of construction jobs included Michigan (8,300 jobs, 6.8%); Pennsylvania (7,100 jobs, 3.3%); and Tennessee (4,400 jobs, 4.3%). Maine, meanwhile, added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (8.7%, 2,100 jobs), Simonson notes.

Harsh winter weather affecting much of the country in January likely contributed to some of the annual and monthly state job losses, Simonson cautions. Among the 20 states losing construction jobs between December and January, Georgia lost the most (-6,300 jobs, -4.5%). Other states losing large numbers of jobs included North Carolina (-5,100 jobs, -3.0%), and Kansas (-4,800 jobs, -8.9%). Kansas lost the highest percentage of construction jobs, followed by South Dakota (-4.8%, -1,000 jobs) and South Carolina (-4.6%, -3,600 jobs).

29 states and Washington, D.C., added construction jobs between December and January, while employment levels in Delaware remained unchanged, Simonson notes. California added the highest number of jobs (17,800 jobs, 3.2%), followed by Illinois (8,800 jobs, 4.6%); Michigan (5,900 jobs, 4.7%); and Ohio (5,200 jobs, 3.2%). Vermont added the highest percentage of construction jobs (5.4%, 700 jobs); followed by Maine (5.2%, 1,300 jobs); Michigan; and Illinois.

Association officials say the new construction employment figures indicate that more needs to be done to help the construction industry recover. They note that the association was planning to release a comprehensive set of recommendations on March 15 designed to boost private sector demand for construction, help the nation address the infrastructure deficit, and cut needless regulations and red tape.