Texas and Montana Top List of Yearly Gains, While West Virginia Has Largest Number and Percent of Losses; Indiana and Iowa Lead in Monthly Job Increases, While California and West Virginia Have Largest Decreases
Construction employment climbed in 45 states in January from a year earlier, while 42 states added construction jobs from December to January, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America today. Association officials said the job gains were welcome news but noted the industry would likely have added more jobs if the pool of available workers were larger.
“The construction industry has been adding jobs nearly everywhere in the past year even as homebuilding slowed,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Most nonresidential contractors continue to report little letup demand and would like to hire even more workers if they were available.”
Between January 2022 and 2023, 45 states added construction jobs, while industry employment declined in four states and the District of Columbia. Employment was flat in North Dakota. Texas added the most jobs over the year (34,800 jobs, 4.6 percent), followed by Florida (23,600 jobs, 4.0 percent), New York (21,900 jobs, 5.7 percent), and Tennessee (14,000 jobs, 9.9 percent). Montana had the largest percentage increase (12.7 percent, 4,400 jobs), followed by Nebraska (10.1 percent, 5,800 jobs), Rhode Island (10.1 percent, 2,100 jobs), and Nevada (10.0 percent, 10,200 jobs). West Virginia lost the most construction jobs over 12 months (-1,600 jobs, -4.8 percent), followed by Mississippi (-900 jobs, -1.9 percent). The largest percentage losses occurred in West Virginia, Mississippi, and D.C. (-1.9 percent, -300 jobs).
For the month, 42 states construction employees, while industry employment declined in seven states and held steady in Mississippi and D.C. Indiana added the most jobs over the month (6,700 jobs, 4.2 percent), followed by Texas (5,900 jobs, 0.7 percent), New Jersey (4,000 jobs, 2.5 percent), Iowa (3,900 jobs, 4.7 percent), and North Carolina (3,900 jobs, 1.5 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in Iowa, followed by Indiana, Montana (4.0 percent, 1,500 jobs), Kansas (3.0 percent, 2,000 jobs), and Idaho (2.7 percent, 1,800 jobs).
California—buffeted by a series of severe storms—experienced the largest decline in construction jobs in January (-7,300 jobs, -1.8 percent). Large one-month losses also occurred in Florida (-2,400 jobs, -0.4 percent) and Colorado (-1,200 jobs, -0.6 percent). West Virginia had the largest percentage loss for the month (-1.8 percent, -600 jobs), followed by California, Colorado, and Main (-0.6 percent, -200 jobs).
Association officials said one of the biggest challenges to recruiting more workers into the industry is that relatively few people have been exposed to construction as a career opportunity. They noted that federal officials only spend twenty cents on career and technical education for every dollar they spend encouraging students to go to college, not counting plans to forgive college debt.
“If we expose more people to construction career opportunities, many are likely to say they would prefer high pay, teamwork and the satisfaction of building projects that will last for decades over spending their time hunched over Zoom meetings,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Federal officials talk about the need to rebuild our country, but they don’t seem willing to invest in new builders.”