Texas and Wyoming Top Lists of Year-over-Year Gains, While Missouri, North Dakota Record the Worst Losses; California and Wyoming Lead in Monthly Job Increases, While Tennessee Experiences Largest Declines
Construction employment increased in 45 states and the District of Columbia in August from a year earlier, while 32 states and D.C. added construction employees from July to August, according to an analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America today. Association officials noted that most contractors report having a hard time finding workers and that the job gains would have been larger if more qualified candidates were available to hire.
“Construction has been a leading source of employment growth almost universally in the past year,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But contractors report needing even more workers as large projects rev up across the country.”
Between August 2022 and August 2023, 45 states and D.C. added construction jobs, while industry employment declined in five states. Texas added the most construction jobs over the year (21,100 jobs or 2.7 percent), followed by California (15,600 jobs, 1.7 percent), Ohio (11,600 jobs, 5.0 percent), and Georgia (10,600 jobs, 5.0 percent). Wyoming had the largest percentage increase in construction jobs over 12 months (13.0 percent, 2,700 jobs), followed by Arkansas (9.9 percent, 5,800 jobs), Kentucky (9.2 percent, 7,700 jobs), West Virginia (8.6 percent, 2,600 jobs), and New Mexico (7.3 percent, 3,600 jobs).
Missouri lost the most jobs (-2,700 jobs, -1.9 percent), followed by Colorado (-2,500 jobs, -1.4 percent), North Dakota (-1,000 jobs, -3.8 percent), Vermont (-200 jobs, -1.3 percent) and North Carolina (-100 jobs, -0.04 percent). North Dakota had the largest percentage loss, followed by Missouri, Colorado, and Vermont.
For the month, construction employment rose in 32 states and D.C., declined in 15 states, and was unchanged in Montana, Oklahoma, and Utah. California added the most jobs over the month (4,700 jobs, 0.5 percent), followed by Arizona (3,500 jobs, 1.8 percent), Pennsylvania (3,300 jobs, 1.2 percent), South Carolina (2,600 jobs, 2.3 percent) and Nevada (2,600 jobs, 2.3 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in Wyoming (3.5 percent, 800 jobs), followed by Kentucky (2.5 percent, 2,200 jobs), South Carolina, and Nevada.
Tennessee lost the most construction jobs in August (-2,400 jobs, -1.6 percent), followed by Virginia (-1,400 jobs, -0.7 percent), Kansas (-1,000 jobs, -1.5 percent) and Oregon (-1,000 jobs, -0.8 percent). Tennessee had the largest percentage loss for the month, followed by Kansas and Rhode Island (-1.4 percent, -300 jobs).
Association officials said many contractors report that one of the biggest challenges they have in adding staff is that many candidates lack the qualifications needed to be employable. The association officials urged federal, state and local policy makers to rethink how they prepare future workers to ensure they have the hard and soft skills needed to be successful in high-paying career fields like construction.
“The good news is construction demand remains strong in many parts of the country,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But until we as a nation do a better job preparing future workers, employers in sectors like construction will continue to struggle to find enough qualified people to hire.”