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N.C. annual construction employment up 3.5%

Construction employment in North Carolina grew by 6,300 jobs in November to 188,500 from 182,200 a year earlier, a growth rate that places the Tar Heel State 26th in the nation.

North Carolina did not fare nearly as well on a monthly basis, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. The state saw a 2.2 percent drop in jobs from October, with the loss of 4,200 jobs from an employment base of 192,700 in October.

North Carolina ranked 46th in the country for month-over-month growth rate.

Construction employment expanded month over month in 38 states. Annual job growth occurred in 44 states and Washington, D.C.

“In nearly every state, contractors are busier now than a year ago,” said AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. “Employment is up, but the industry would be expanding even more rapidly if contractors could find enough qualified workers.”

Simonson said construction spending has risen 13 percent over the last year, suggesting a need for more workers. He cautioned that filling empty positions may prove difficult because last month the number of unemployed jobseekers who last worked in construction was at its lowest November level since 2000.

The AGC cites several factors as contributing to the shrinking labor pool, including the aging out of some workers into retirement and an exodus from the industry during the recession. In addition, the AGC says fewer workers are entering the profession due to a decline in career and technical training opportunities, including a lack of high school-level programs that expose students to construction as a potential career.

On a month-over-month basis, South Dakota came in first in the rate of job growth last month. The state recorded a 5.6 percent increase in jobs to 24,700 in November. Delaware and North Dakota ranked last, with a 3.6 percent drop in jobs to 21,300 and 34,800, respectively.

On an annual basis, Hawaii added the highest percentage of new construction jobs, reporting a 12.5 percent gain to 35,200 jobs last month from 31,300 in November 2014. Ranking last was West Virginia, which lost 14.5 percent of its construction workforce, leaving the state with 27,100 employees compared with 31,700 a year earlier.

California gained the most jobs over the past year, adding 41,000 positions, followed by New York, which added 30,500. The largest losses were in West Virginia, down 4,600, and North Dakota, down 1,600.

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