Construction employment rose in only 19 states and Washington, D.C., in November, a weaker showing than in recent months, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. In contrast, 25 states plus Washington, D.C., added jobs on a year-over-year basis, while 24 states shed construction jobs.
"Although there have been selective improvements in private nonresidential employment, multifamily construction and even home building in a few states, public construction employment declines are negating these gains in much of the country,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "The map of gains and losses is likely to remain very checkered for several more months."
Seasonally adjusted construction employment climbed from October to November in only 19 states plus D.C., in contrast to recent months that showed a nearly even split between states with gains and those with losses. Rhode Island had the largest one-month percentage gain (5.8%, 900 jobs), while New York added the largest number of construction jobs for the month (4,600 jobs, 1.8%). Nevada was second in both categories (5.3%, 2,900 jobs). Florida tied for second place in construction jobs added in November (2,900 jobs, 0.9%).
Of the 30 states that lost construction jobs from October to November, Arizona had the largest one-month percentage drop (-4.3%, -5,000 jobs), with Utah next (-4.2%, -2,800 jobs), followed by Kentucky (-3.9%, -2,500 jobs) and Vermont (-3.7%, -500 jobs). California lost the largest number of construction jobs for the month (-7,100 jobs, -1.2%), followed by Arizona, then Ohio (-4,000 jobs, -2.3%). Maine had no change in monthly construction employment.
North Dakota ranked first among 25 states and the District of Columbia that recorded construction employment gains from November 2010 to November 2011. The state added 18% (3,800 jobs). Indiana ranked second (8.1%, 9,300 jobs), followed by Rhode Island (6.5%, 1,000 jobs) and Oklahoma (6.0%, 4,100 jobs). Texas added the largest number of jobs (10,600, 1.8%), closely followed by California (10,400, 1.9%).
Among the 24 states that lost construction jobs over the past 12 months, New Mexico experienced the steepest decline (-13%, -5,900 jobs), followed by Wisconsin (-9.5%, -8,800 jobs), Kentucky (-8.9%, -6,100 jobs) and Georgia, which shed the largest number of jobs over the year (-11,500 jobs, -8.0%). Wisconsin had the second-highest number of job losses; Alabama was third-worst (-6,600, -7.7%). Nevada had no change in construction employment over the year.
Association officials said the failure of Congress to enact long-term transportation and infrastructure funding bills was holding back hiring by public-works contractors. They noted that airport projects had already been halted once and that funding for highways and transit was guaranteed only through March.
“When federal funds are assured for only a few months at a time, states and contractors are unable to start long-term projects, and employment in a state can drop as soon as a major project ends,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Construction firms—and the many businesses that depend on them—will continue to suffer until Congress does its part.”