Construction employment decreased in 27 states and the District of Columbia between February and March, while 33 states lost construction jobs during the past 12 months, the Associated General Contractors of America recently reported in an analysis of state employment data released by the Labor Department. Association officials said the data shows that construction remains gripped in a depression that merits urgent corrective actions at federal and state levels.

The largest monthly percentage losses occurred in Maine (-4.7%, -1,200 jobs) followed by Connecticut (-3.0%, -1,600 jobs), Idaho (-2.9%, -900 jobs), and Louisiana (-2.8%, -3,500 jobs). The largest number of construction job losses over the month were in California (-4,300 jobs, -0.7%), Louisiana, Florida (-3,200 jobs, -1.0%), and Pennsylvania (-2,800 jobs, -1.2%).

Conversely, 19 states added jobs during the month and four (Indiana, Iowa, Hawaii, and New Hampshire) held steady. Oklahoma had the largest one-month percentage increase in employment (5.6%, 3,600 jobs), followed by Arkansas (5.3%, 2,400 jobs), North Dakota (4.8%, 1,000 jobs), and Missouri (4.2%, 4,200 jobs). Missouri added the most construction jobs between February and March, followed by Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Alabama (2,300 jobs, 2.7%).

Of the 17 states with year-over-year increases, the largest percentage gains occurred in Tennessee (6.3%, 6,500 jobs), followed by Texas (6.1%, 34,600 jobs), Wyoming (5.3%, 1,200 jobs), and Delaware (4.2%, 800 jobs). Texas added the largest number of jobs, followed by Pennsylvania (7,600 jobs, 3.5%); Tennessee; and Virginia (4,400 jobs, 2.4%). Vermont’s construction employment was unchanged.

North Dakota became the first state to exceed its previous high. The state added 800 jobs over the year, bringing its total in March to 21,900, slightly above the 21,800 employed in October 2008.

The largest percentage drop in construction employment between March 2010 and 2011 took place in West Virginia (-11.1%, -3,700 jobs), followed by Wisconsin (-8.0%, -7,700 jobs), Georgia (-7.6%, -11,500 jobs), and Nevada (-7.5%, -4,600 jobs). Florida (-14,700 jobs, -4.2%) had the largest number of year-over-year job losses, followed by New York (-12,700 jobs, -4.1%) and Georgia.

Association officials said the generally weak results showed the urgency of adopting federal and state measures to improve the investment climate for construction. They urged officials in Washington and in state capitals to review and act on the group’s recently released construction industry recovery plan, “Building a Stronger Future.”

Source: Associated General Contractors of America