AGC: Most states adding construction jobs; aluminum, steel tariffs pose risk

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Updated May 9, 2018

Workers Talking Construction Jobsite StockThirty-eight states and the District of Columbia saw an increase in construction jobs between March 2017 and March 2018, according to Associated General Contractors of America.

AGC attributed the growth to “strong private-sector demand and new public-sector investments in school and airport construction.” The nonprofit association, however, cautioned that a worker shortage and potential impacts from tariffs are the greatest risk to that rise.

AGC officials said tariffs announced by the Trump administration and retaliation by affected countries “could undermine demand for construction of shipping, logistics and manufacturing facilities.”

“There are better ways to address trade imbalances than by undermining domestic economic growth,” said AGC’s CEO, Stephen E. Sandherr.

On May 1, the Trump administration announced a last-minute, 30-day delay on proposed aluminum and steel tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico. The tariff-exempt countries, however, will face quotas and other restrictions on aluminum and steel imported into the United States, the administration said. Administration officials on May 3 headed to China, which has threatened retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports, to try to reach a trade deal.

The New York Times reports that construction firms and other large metal purchasers have been stockpiling steel, which is sending prices higher for the metal. Many economists fear the tariffs could prompt a trade war and damage the U.S. economy.


Where the growth is

Twenty-nine states saw an increase in construction jobs between February and March – with Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan and Missouri leading the way, according to the AGC’s analysis of U.S. Labor Department data released April 20.

Of the 19 states that experienced a loss of construction jobs in March, New York shed the most, followed by California, New Jersey, Arizona and Minnesota.

Despite being on the March job-shed list, California has experienced the most construction job growth between March 2017 and March 2018 – with 54,000 construction jobs added, according to AGC.

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During that 12-month period, the top states for adding construction workers, after California, were Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Here’s a breakdown of where the construction job growth has occurred:

States with most construction jobs added March 2017-March 2018

No. jobs added            % increase

California                    54,000                             6.8

Texas                           34,000                             4.8

Florida                         31,600                             6.3

Pennsylvania              13,600                             5.6

Michigan                     12,100                              7.5

States with most construction jobs lost March 2017-March 2018

No. jobs lost    % decrease

North Dakota             4,300                   14.8

Iowa                             3,900                   5

Kansas                         2,500                   4.1

Nebraska                    2,000                   3.8

New Jersey                 1,800                   1.2

States with most construction jobs added March 2018

No. jobs added            % increase

Texas                           3,800                                 0.5

Wisconsin                   2,300                                 1.9

Florida                         2,200                                 0.4

Michigan                     1,600                                 0.9

Missouri                      1,400                                 1.2

States with most construction jobs lost March 2018

No. jobs lost    % decrease

New York                     5,200                  1.3

California                     4,400                 0.5

New Jersey                  1,400                  0.9

Arizona                         1,200                  0.8

Minnesota                    1,000                 0.8