Construction employment edged closer to stabilizing in June, as half the states either added construction jobs or kept the same number as in May, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) reported in an analysis of federal employment data released today. Compared to June 2009, construction employment rose in six states, the largest number of states to post year-over-year increases since October 2008.
"It is encouraging to see some states adding construction jobs and the declines in others getting less severe," says Ken Simonson, chief economist for the construction trade association. "But there's little room to celebrate with overall construction employment at a 14-year low and demand for most constructions services still weak."
Simonson notes that the largest year-over-year increase was in Kansas, where construction employment rose 7.7%, followed by Alaska at 3.1%, Arkansas at 2.4%, West Virginia at 2.4%, and New Hampshire at 2.3%. The largest percentage job decrease compared to June 2009, was in Nevada at 24.4%, followed by Vermont at 18.5%, Wyoming at 16.6%, and Washington at 14.3%. California lost the largest number of jobs with a decrease of 12%. Kentucky experienced the highest one-month percent increase in construction employment with 2.4%, followed by New Mexico at 2.1%, Massachusetts at 1.9%, Utah at 1.5%, and Nebraska at 1.5%. Wyoming lost the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month with 6.9%, followed by Vermont at 5.2%, Nevada with 4.7%, Idaho at 3.7%, and Iowa at 3%.
Simonson notes that the abundance of workers and firms eager to work, combined with relatively low materials costs makes construction services more affordable than they have been in years. He notes that the producer price index for construction dropped 0.9% in June. "In a few months, however, many companies are likely to have closed their doors, and materials costs will be rising again," the economist cautions.
Association officials note that projects funded by federal stimulus money have added to the construction job tally in many states. They warn; however, that money will soon run out yet Congress has yet to pass most of its regular long-term infrastructure bills. "Any improvements in the construction employment picture will be difficult to sustain unless Congress quickly passes long-term funding for transportation, drinking water and wastewater infrastructure,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's CEO.