Construction employment expands in 26 states, DC

Construction employment saw gains in 26 states and the District of Columbia between February and March 2010 according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. Two states saw no change and 22 states experienced declines in construction employment over the last month.

Of the 26 states experiencing gains, Maryland saw the most growth in construction employment over the month with 5,200 jobs added, a gain of 3.7 percent. Pennsylvania added the second highest number of jobs at 4,900, a 2.3 percent gain over the month. Following closely behind, New York added 4,300 jobs, a 1.4 percent gain, and Missouri added 4,100 jobs, a 4.1 percent. gain. The District of Columbia experienced the highest percentage increase between February and March 2010 at 18.4 percent, an increase of 1,800 jobs over the month.

Between February and March, 22 states saw declines in construction employment. Texas lost the highest number of jobs over the month with a loss of 6,300 jobs, a decline of 1.1 percent. Louisiana lost the second highest number of jobs at a loss of 5,200, 4.1 percent, followed by Nevada, which lost 4,600 jobs, a 6.7 percent decline over the month.

Over the year, only two states experienced increases in construction employment. Arkansas added 300 jobs over the year, a 0.6 percent change from March 2009. North Dakota added 100 jobs, a 0.5 percent change from the same month last year. California experienced the largest decline in employment, losing 108,500 jobs, a 16.3 percent decline over the year. Texas lost 78,100 jobs, a decline of 12.6 percent, and Florida lost 57,000 jobs, a 13.7 percent decline since March 2009. Nevada experienced the largest percentage drop in employment with a 30 percent drop over the year, followed by Colorado with a 20.3 percent drop and Arizona with a 19.9 percent drop.

AGC chief economist Ken Simonson says it’s too early to tell if the gains in 26 states and D.C. are a result of better weather or a trend towards recovery.

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“Even assuming the numbers are heading in the right direction,” says Simonson, â€śit is a long climb just to get back to normal for the construction industry.”

AGC officials say the stimulus should provide a boost for the construction economy, but private sector and state and local construction activity may exceed the amount of stimulus funds laid out.

“As much as the stimulus helps, until broader demand for construction expands, our industry will be lucky to tread water,” says Simonson.