Construction employment saw significant declines in all but two states this August 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, however did show that the number of states gaining construction jobs increased slightly in August compared to July 2009.
"Construction employment continues to shrink at an alarming rate," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. "I don't expect much improvement in construction employment until stimulus money flows more broadly, the federal-aid highway program is renewed, and home building gains momentum."
The five biggest percentage losses in construction employment over the year occurred in Arizona (27 percent, or 50,000 jobs), Nevada (25 percent, or 29,500 jobs), and three states with 22 percent losses: Connecticut (14,300 jobs), Kentucky (18,300 jobs) and Tennessee (28,300 jobs). He noted that 41 states saw double-digit percentage decreases in construction employment for the year. Meanwhile, construction employment expanded in just two states compared to August 2008. North Dakota added 800 construction jobs for a 4 percent increase while Louisiana added 4,400 jobs for a 3 percent increase in construction employment.
Simonson noted, however, that when compared to the previous month, the construction employment picture was slightly less bleak this August with 30 states shedding construction jobs, 16 adding construction jobs, and four states and Washington, DC remaining stable, compared to 34 states losing and only 14 states adding construction jobs in July.
The largest percentage gains were a 3 percent rise in Idaho (1,000 jobs); 2 percent each in Delaware (500) and Nebraska (800), and slightly more than 1 percent each in Florida (5,500) and Alaska (200). The largest percentage losses for the month were an 8 percent decline in Mississippi (4,800 jobs), a 5 percent decline in Rhode Island (900), and 3 percent declines each in Ohio (5,700), Tennessee (2,800), and South Carolina (2,600). (The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics combines construction with mining and logging in Delaware, Nebraska, Tennessee and four other locations to prevent disclosing information about industries with few employees.)
"Many more federal, state and local agencies need to convert stimulus funds into construction contracts to stem the tide of construction job losses," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "More important, Congress and the administration need to focus on pro-growth policies that will reawaken declining private-sector construction activity."