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Construction firms added jobs in 37 states over the past 12 months and in 30 states between January and February, according to an analysis of government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.
“Considering the mix of states adding and losing construction jobs for the month and year, it seems winter conditions had less of an impact than many had expected,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Instead, what appears to be driving construction employment is differing levels of demand for new buildings and infrastructure amid a relatively uneven economic recovery.”
Florida led all states in both percentage and total construction gains with an 11 percent rise and 39,200 new jobs between February 2013 and February 2014. Other states adding a high percentage of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included Nevada (10.4 percent, 5,800 jobs); Oregon (9.8 percent, 7,000 jobs) and Minnesota (8.1 percent, 7,900 jobs). After Florida, California added the most new construction jobs for the year (38,800 jobs, 6.2 percent); followed by Texas (23,700 jobs, 3.9 percent) and Minnesota.
A total of 10 states plus D.C. lost construction jobs between February 2013 and February 2014, while employment was constant in three other states. The largest number of losses occurred in Indiana (-3,300 jobs, -2.6 percent), followed by New Jersey (-2,800 jobs, -2.1 percent) and West Virginia (-2,300 jobs, -6.5 percent). West Virginia had the highest percentage decline in construction employment, followed by the District of Columbia (-5 percent, -700 jobs); Montana (-2.9 percent, -700 jobs) and Indiana.
Association officials said that even as construction employment slowly recovers in certain parts of the country, total construction employment remains below peak levels in every state and the District of Columbia. They urged Congress and the administration to avoid letting the federal highway funding lapse this summer when the federal Highway Trust Fund balance is expected to reach zero.
“Congress and the administration should be focused on writing legislation to fix the Highway Trust Fund and put in place a long-term transportation program,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Given how fragile the construction industry remains, the last thing we need is for billions of dollars' worth of highway projects to get put on hold this summer.”