Construction employment declined in 30 states from August 2011 to August 2012 and in 26 states in the past month, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials noted that construction employment declined in most states even as long term infrastructure programs and tax measures languish.
“Construction employment continues to decline in many states as key tax and infrastructure decisions languish in Washington,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Thousands more construction workers could be employed today in states across the country if we had long-term federal tax and infrastructure programs in place.”
The economist said that among states losing construction jobs during the past year, Alaska lost the highest percentage (-14.2%, -2,000 jobs), followed by Nevada (-10.0%, -5,200 jobs) and Mississippi (-8.4%, -4,100 jobs). Illinois lost the most jobs (-11,500, -5.9%), followed by Georgia (-9,900, -6.7%) and Florida (-8,500 jobs, -2.6%).
Simonson noted that 20 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between August 2011 and August 2012. The District of Columbia added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (14.9%, 1,800 jobs), followed by North Dakota (11.8%, 2,900 jobs) and Nebraska (10.8%, 4,400 jobs). Texas added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months (37,900, 6.8%), followed by California (33,000, 6.0%) and Indiana (10,400, 8.7%).
New Mexico had the steepest percentage decline among states that lost construction jobs for the month (-6.8%, -2,900 jobs), followed by Alaska (-3.2%, -400 jobs) and Connecticut (-2.7%, -1,300 jobs). The largest number of construction job losses in July occurred in North Carolina (-3,400 jobs, -2.0%), followed by Pennsylvania (-3,300 jobs, -1.5%) and New Mexico.
Twenty-four states plus Washington, D.C., added construction jobs between July and August. The highest percentage gains for the month occurred in Arkansas (4.8%, 2,000 jobs), followed by Hawaii (2.8%, 800 jobs) and Mississippi (2.8%, 1,200 jobs). Texas added the most jobs during the month (13,600 jobs, 2.3%), followed by Florida (5,300 jobs, 1.7%) and California (5,100, 0.9%).
Association officials said that construction employment was suffering from Washington's failure to act on a number of long-term infrastructure and tax measures. They noted that Congress has yet to enact long-term water infrastructure measures, address transportation funding challenges, or set tax levels for future years.
"Not only are Washington officials failing to make tough choices on infrastructure funding, they aren't even taking care of essential measures like setting tax rates and keeping our clean water systems up to date,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. “Construction employment suffers when firms can't anticipate future demand or know how much they will have to pay in taxes.”