Construction jobs grow in more states, metros in January

Construction employment rose in 29 states in D.C. from December to January – despite widespread harsh weather in mid-January – fell in 20 states and was level in Delaware. During the year, construction employment climbed in 14 states and D.C. and fell in 36 states.

The largest year-over-year percentage declines were in Nevada, -13 percent; Georgia, -12 percent; Wisconsin, Kentucky and North Carolina, -8 percent each. The largest gains were in Maine, 9 percent; Michigan, 7 percent; Texas, 6 percent; Tennessee, 4 percent; Pennsylvania and Mississippi, 3 percent each.

The Associated General Contractors of America analyzed the change in construction employment in each state from its peak month through January 2011, based on revised historical data that the Bureau of Labor Statistics posted. Peak months ranged from September 2009 in North Dakota to January 2000 in Kansas (and March 1990 in D.C.). North Dakota came closest to matching its prior peak, with a 1 percent decline, followed by Texas (-12 percent since May 2008) and Louisiana (-12 percent since December 2008). The steepest drops were in Nevada, -61 percent; Arizona, -55 percent; and Florida, -52 percent, all of which peaked in June 2006. (BLS combines mining and logging with construction in six states, D.C. and most metro areas to prevent disclosure of data for industries with few employers.)

The number and rate of job openings increased in the overall economy but not in construction from January 2010 to January 2011, reports the BLS. Job openings in all industries rose from approximately 2.4 million to 2.8 million seasonally adjusted, and the rate per 100 employees climbed from 1.8 to 2.1. Openings in construction went from 61,000 to 62,000, and the rate remained 1.1. Overall hires rose from 3.6 million to 3.7 and the rate held steady at 2.8. In contrast, construction hires plunged from 344,000 to 247,000, and the rate dropped from 6.2 to 4.5. Total separations (quits, layoffs, involuntary separations and other, including retirements) held nearly steady at approximately 3.6 and a rate of 2.7.

View construction employment numbers by state and by metro area. Also, view employment data since January 2007 here.