26 States Add Construction Jobs During Unusually Mild November - North Dakota Sees Annual Increase

Too early to know if trend is emerging as Kansas and Nebraska see largest increase.

The following information was released by Associated General Contractors of America:

Construction employment increased in 26 states this November during a period of warm, dry weather according to an analysis of new employment data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The analysis conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America, however, found construction employment decreased everywhere except North Dakota over the past 12 months.

"It is too early to say if the pickup reflects improving economic conditions or a short-lived break in the weather," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. "Only eight of the states with gains in November had increases the month before," Simonson added.

Simonson noted that from October to November, 23 states and the District of Columbia shed construction jobs, 26 added construction jobs, and Delaware remained stable. That compares favorably with the month-over-month change from September to October 2009, when 33 states (including DC) lost, 17 added and one had no change in the number of construction jobs. He noted that Virginia had the largest total monthly construction job gain (2,900) while Florida had the largest monthly decline (9,200).

The largest monthly percentage gains were a 3.3 percent rise in Kansas (1,900 jobs); 2.7 percent in Nebraska (1,300 jobs), 2.0 percent in Arkansas (1,000 jobs), 1.9 percent in Idaho (700 jobs) and 1.8 percent in South Dakota (400 jobs). The largest percentage losses for the month were a 3.8 percent decline in Vermont (500 jobs), a 2.8 percent decline in Washington (4,600 jobs), 2.3 percent declines in Arizona (3,100 jobs) and New Hampshire (500 jobs) and 2.2 percent declines in Florida (9,200 jobs) and Hawaii (700 jobs).

Only states with back-to-back employment gains are showing even tentative signs of ending their construction slumps, Simonson stressed. Eight states made that list in the September-to-November period, led by Kansas, with a two-month gain of 5 percent. West Virginia and Indiana added 4 percent to their construction rolls over two months and Wisconsin tacked on 3 percent. There were increases of about 2 percent over two months in Arkansas, Georgia and Ohio, and minimal gains both months in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, the five biggest percentage losses in construction employment over the year occurred in Nevada (24.7 percent, or 27,000 jobs), Arizona (22 percent, or 37,100 jobs), Tennessee (21.6 percent, or 28,300 jobs), Kentucky (20.9 percent, or 17,500 jobs) and Maryland (18.3 percent or 31,400 jobs). He noted that 36 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 4.3 percent, totaling 900 jobs.

"The last thing construction workers need right now are cuts in infrastructure investments" said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer, noting that federal investments in highway and transit projects are currently projected to decline by $15 billion in 2010 compared to this year, a 20 percent decline. "It would be a tragedy is Washington were to step on the first green shoot this industry has seen in months."