Construction Employment Declines In 49 States and D.C. in September Compared to Last Year

Nevada and Arizona experience largest declines and 41 states experience double-digit job losses as only Louisiana adds construction jobs during the past year.

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

Construction employment again declined in large numbers in all but one state this September 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, also found that the number of states gaining construction jobs from August to September 2009 declined after increasing during the two previous months.

"While there's little doubt construction employment would have been worse without the stimulus, there's no question that the industry continues to shed jobs at an alarming rate," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. "The stimulus remains an important measure, but until private-sector demand for construction resumes, there's little chance the current construction employment decline will turnaround or even stop."

The five biggest percentage losses in construction employment over the year occurred in Nevada (27.8 percent, or 31,100 jobs), Arizona (25.3 percent, or 45,900 jobs), Michigan (22.3 percent, or 15,700 jobs), Tennessee (21.5 percent, or 28,400 jobs) and Kentucky (19.5 percent or 16,500 jobs). He noted that 41 states saw double-digit percentage decreases in construction employment for the year. Meanwhile, construction employment only expanded in Louisiana during the past year, with a 2.1 percent increase, totaling 2,800 jobs.

Simonson noted that when compared to the previous month, the construction employment picture deteriorated slightly this September with 36 states shedding construction jobs, 13 (including Washington, D.C.) adding construction jobs, and 2 states remaining stable, compared to 30 states losing, 16 adding and 5 (including D.C.) remaining stable in August.

The largest monthly percentage gains were a 2.4 percent rise in Connecticut (1,200 jobs); 1.7 percent each in Oklahoma (1,200 jobs) and the District of Columbia (200 jobs), 1.5 percent in Alabama (1,300 jobs) and 1.4 percent in New Hampshire (300 jobs). The largest percentage losses for the month were a 4.1 percent decline in Nevada (3,500 jobs) and Arkansas (2,200 jobs), a 3.2 percent decline in North Dakota (700 jobs), a 3 percent decline in Florida (12,800 jobs), and 2.8 percent declines each in Michigan (3,400 jobs), New York (9,500 jobs) and New Jersey (4,000 jobs). (The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics combines construction with mining and logging in 7 locations to prevent disclosing information about industries with few employees.)

"These figures should serve as a sobering reminder that public investments alone are not going to turn around a trillion dollar construction industry," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "The three most important issues in Washington ought to be jobs, jobs and jobs, which is why we need pro-growth measures like those we outlined in our blueprint for recovery," Sandherr added.

View the September 2009 state-by-state construction employment chart, or read more about the association's construction recovery plan, "Build Now for the Future: A Blueprint for Economic Recovery."