Nevada and Arizona Experience Largest Declines, Only North Dakota Adds Construction Jobs this Year
Construction workers continued to suffer dramatic job losses as all but one state saw declines in construction employment this October compared to last year, according to an analysis of new state-by-state employment figures released today by the federal government. The analysis, conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America, points to the need for Washington officials to include new infrastructure investments as they consider proposals for a new "jobs" bill."A shockingly large portion of the construction industry's workforce has simply evaporated," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. He added that the national construction unemployment rate of 18.7 percent was the highest of any sector in October and the industry accounted for one-fifth of all job losses in the past year, even though construction only employs one out of 20 workers.
The five biggest percentage losses in construction employment over the year occurred in Nevada (26.9 percent, or 30,200 jobs), Arizona (24.2 percent, or 42,600 jobs), Tennessee (22.3 percent, or 29,300 jobs), Kentucky (20.8 percent, or 17,600 jobs) and Connecticut (19.3 percent or 12,500 jobs). He noted that 40 states saw double-digit percentage decreases in construction employment for the year. Construction employment, meanwhile, only expanded in North Dakota during the past year, with an increase of 1.9 percent, totaling 400 jobs.
Simonson noted that when compared to September 2009, 33 states shed construction jobs (including Washington, DC), 18 added construction jobs, and 2 states remained stable. That compares favorably with the month-over-month change from August to September 2009, when 36 states lost, 13 (including DC) added and 2 saw no change in the number of construction jobs.
The largest monthly gains were a 4.6 percent rise in Michigan (5,400 jobs); 3.4 percent in Wisconsin (3,500 jobs), 3.3 percent in Indiana (4,000 jobs), 2.6 percent in West Virginia (900 jobs) and 2.3 percent in Rhode Island (400 jobs). The largest percentage losses for the month were a 3.7 percent decline in Mississippi (2,000 jobs), a 3.4 percent decline in North Carolina (6,600 jobs), a 2.9 percent decline in Idaho (1,100 jobs), a 2.8 percent decline in Colorado (3,700 jobs), and a 2.4 percent decline in Oregon (1,900 jobs).
Because construction workers have carried the burden of the downturn's job losses, the easiest way to cut unemployment and boost the economy is to get America building again," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "Increasing investments in highway, transit and infrastructure construction must be the core component to the 'jobs' bill that Washington officials are committing to pass soon."