Texas and Arkansas Top List of Yearly Gains, While Missouri, North Dakota, and Vermont Have Worst Losses; Texas and South Dakota Lead in Monthly Job Increases, While Virginia and Iowa Experience Largest Declines
Construction employment increased in 45 states in June from a year earlier, while 33 states added construction jobs from May to June, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America today. Association officials said the job gains were welcome, but that widespread construction labor shortages mean many firms would likely have hired even more workers if they could find qualified candidates.
“Unlike some other parts of the economy, construction is showing no letup in activity,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But with an industry unemployment rate of only 3.6 percent, contractors in many states have had a tough time in recent months finding enough workers to execute all of their projects.”
Between June 2022 and June 2023, 45 states added construction jobs, while industry employment declined in five states and held steady in the District of Columbia. Texas added the most construction jobs over the year (30,500 jobs or 3.9 percent), followed by New York (10,100 jobs, 2.6 percent), Louisiana (9,700 jobs, 7.5 percent), and California (9,300 jobs, 1.0 percent). Arkansas had the largest percentage increase in construction jobs over 12 months (11.8 percent, 6,700 jobs), followed by Kentucky (8.0 percent, 6,600 jobs), Nebraska (7.8 percent, 4,400 jobs), Louisiana, and Oregon (7.5 percent, 8,600 jobs).
Missouri lost the most jobs (-1,800 jobs, -1.3 percent), followed by Colorado (-1,500 jobs, -0.8 percent), North Dakota (-500 jobs, -1.9 percent), Connecticut (-500 jobs, -0.8 percent), and Vermont (-300 jobs, -1.9 percent). North Dakota and Vermont had the largest percentage loss, followed by Missouri, Colorado, and Connecticut.
For the month, construction employment increased in 33 states, declined in 15 states and D.C., and was flat in Delaware and Massachusetts. Texas added the most jobs over the month (11,000 jobs, 1.4 percent), followed by California (6,000 jobs, 0.7 percent), Florida (4,000 jobs, 0.7 percent), Maryland (3,900 jobs, 2.4 percent) and Indiana (3,800 jobs, 2.4 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in South Dakota (4.3 percent, 1,100 jobs), followed by Mississippi (4.1 percent, 1,900 jobs), Alaska (2.5 percent, 400 jobs), Maryland, and Indiana.
Virginia experienced the largest decline in construction jobs in June (-3,200 jobs, -1.5 percent), followed by North Carolina (-2,900 jobs, -1.2 percent) and New York (-2,100 jobs, -0.5 percent). Iowa had the largest percentage loss for the month (-2.0 percent, -1,700 jobs), followed by D.C. (-1.9 percent, -300 jobs).
Association officials called for a mix of immigration reforms and new investments in construction-focused education and training to help address chronic labor shortages in construction. Federal officials can provide short-term relief by creating a temporary work visa program for people with construction skills. Public officials also need to address the significant federal funding gap that exists between programs to encourage students to go to college and those that expose students to career opportunities in fields like construction.
“The federal government’s current approach essentially discourages students from pursuing construction careers while prohibiting people from entering the country to work in construction,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Instead, Congress and the administration boost funding for career and technical education and allow more people to lawfully enter the country and work in construction.”