U.S. Construction Jobs Up Over Past Year, Though Gains More Modest Over Past Month

(Photo: AISC)

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between July 2016 and July 2017, yet only half the states added construction jobs between June and July amid declining public-sector investments in infrastructure and other construction projects, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data released last week. Association officials said firms in parts of the country that build infrastructure projects are seeing less demand for their services amid overall declines in public-sector spending.

"Despite growing private-sector demand, it appears that construction employment in some parts of the country is being brought down by declining public-sector investments," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. "Some of these declines will be offset thanks to recently enacted state infrastructure funding increases, but stagnant federal investments are not helping."

California added the most construction jobs (51,000 jobs, 6.6%) during the past year. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (35,800 jobs, 7.5%); Louisiana (13,900 jobs, 9.8%); Oregon (11,900 jobs, 13.2%) and Texas (10,400 jobs, 1.5%). Oregon added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Nevada (12.8%, 9,700 jobs); Rhode Island (12.7%, 2,300 jobs) and New Hampshire (11.8%, 3,000 jobs).

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia shed construction jobs between July 2016 and July 2017 while construction employment was unchanged in North Dakota. Iowa lost the highest number of construction jobs (-4,400 jobs, -5.4%), followed by Illinois (-4,300 jobs, -2.0%) and North Carolina (-2,500 jobs, -1.2%). South Dakota lost the highest percentage for the year (-5.6%, -1,400 jobs) followed by Iowa and Mississippi (-3.9%, -1,700 jobs).

Association officials urged Congress and the administration to act quickly to make needed new investments in the country's aging infrastructure to offset declining public-sector investments in construction. In particular, they urged officials to consider including new infrastructure investments as part of a tax reform measures expected this fall. New investments in infrastructure will not only help boost construction employment, but they will also make the broader economy more efficient, helping all businesses improve.

"Washington officials can fund needed improvements to our infrastructure and help spur more robust economic growth by including public works funding as part of their tax reform efforts," said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer for the association.

View the state employment data by rank and state. View the state employment map.