Construction employment increased in 30 states in March as the industry expanded, but at a slower pace than in February, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials caution, however, that many states remain vulnerable to construction cutbacks from newly enacted and proposed decreases in federal funding for infrastructure.
“A majority of states are adding jobs month by month and year-over-year,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The expansion appears poised to continue for residential and private nonresidential construction. But investment in infrastructure and public buildings is still on a downward path. That will keep employment down in states with a large federal presence.”
Simonson said hiring for recovery work from Hurricane Sandy may be the reason New York had the largest increase in construction employment between February and March (6,000 jobs, 1.9 percent) and Connecticut had the largest percentage increase (5.7 percent, 2,900 jobs).
Twenty states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs between February and March. The largest losses occurred in Missouri (-3,400 jobs, -3.2 percent).
Association officials said cuts in federal funding for construction enacted in March would push employment totals lower in states with large military and federal civilian facilities. “Shortchanging investment in the nation’s infrastructure hurts not just construction workers but anyone who relies on good roads, air travel or drinking water,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer.
“We need to make urgent repairs and new investments in transportation and environmental infrastructure before our aging and overused systems begin to drag on economic growth,” Sandherr said.