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Construction firms added jobs in 39 states between September 2013 and September 2014 while construction employment increased in 34 states and the District of Columbia between August and September, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the construction job gains come as more construction firms report having a hard time finding qualified workers to fill key positions.
“Construction firms in most states have been expanding during the past year,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But as those firms expand, they have to work harder to attract their skilled craft workers and key construction professionals.”
Florida added the most construction jobs of any state (41,900 jobs, 11.2 percent) between September 2013 and September 2014. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included California (38,300 jobs, 6 percent), Texas (31,800 jobs, 5.2 percent), Illinois (11,700 jobs, 6.1 percent) and Louisiana (11,000 jobs, 8.4 percent). Nevada (12.8 percent, 7,300 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Delaware (12.7 percent, 2,500 jobs), Florida, Utah (10.7 percent, 7,900 jobs) and North Dakota (10 percent, 3,400 jobs).
Ten states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months, with construction employment unchanged in D.C. and New Mexico. The largest percentage and total losses occurred in New Jersey (-8.0 percent, -11,200 jobs), Arizona (-6.2 percent, -7,600 jobs) and West Virginia (-5.9 percent, -2,000 jobs).
Thirty-four states and D.C. added construction jobs between August and September. (Texas (5,400 jobs, 0.8 percent) added the most jobs, followed by California (4,400 jobs, 0.7 percent), Michigan (3,100 jobs, 2.3 percent) and Washington (2,900 jobs, 1.9 percent). Mississippi (3.9 percent, 1,900 jobs) had the highest percentage increase for the month, followed by Hawaii (3.3 percent, 1,000 jobs), Michigan (2.3 percent, 3,100 jobs) and Iowa (2.3 percent, 1,600 jobs).
Fifteen states lost construction jobs for the month, while construction employment was unchanged in Wyoming. Pennsylvania (-5,000 jobs, -2.1 percent) lost the most construction jobs between August and September.
Other states experiencing large monthly declines in total construction employment included Arizona (-2,700 jobs, -2.3 percent), Virginia (-1,500 jobs, -0.8 percent) and Maryland (-1,400 jobs, -0.9 percent). Maine (-3.7 percent, -1,000 jobs) experienced the highest monthly percentage decline, followed by New Hampshire (-2.7 percent, -600 jobs), Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Association officials said the new employment figures show that the industry continues to add new workers after its years-long downturn. But they cautioned that more and more firms are reporting labor shortages. They added that the association will release the results of a new, nationwide, construction workforce survey Oct. 22 that measures the extent of worker shortages, their impact on firms' operations and some of the causes of the worker shortages.
"Hard as it is to imagine, given what this industry has been through the past few years, but many firms are very worried about their ability to find, recruit and retain qualified workers as the industry continues to rebound," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's CEO.