Construction employment increased in 45 states in February from a year earlier, while 24 states added construction jobs from January to February, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the annual job gains are a sign that demand for construction remains robust and continued to caution that labor shortages are holding many firms back.
“Unfavorable weather may have held back construction in many states last month compared to January,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But construction employment continued to expand almost everywhere in February compared to a year ago, despite a slump in homebuilding.”
Between February 2022 and 2023, 45 states added construction jobs, while industry employment declined in five states and the District of Columbia. Texas added the most jobs over the year (37,900 jobs, 5.0 percent), followed by New York (20,400 jobs, 5.3 percent), Florida (19,700 jobs, 3.3 percent), Nevada (12,100 jobs, 11.8 percent), and Georgia (11,700 jobs, 5.5 percent). Rhode Island had the largest percentage increase (12.4 percent, 2,600 jobs), followed by Nevada, Montana (9.3 percent, 3,300 jobs), Nebraska (8.1 percent, 4,700 jobs) and Utah (7.3 percent, 9,400 jobs). West Virginia lost the most jobs over 12 months (-2,200 jobs, -6.5 percent), followed by Colorado (-1,500 jobs, -0.8 percent) and South Dakota (-1,200 jobs, -4.6 percent). The largest percentage losses occurred in West Virginia, South Dakota, and D.C. (-3.2 percent, -500 jobs).
For the month, construction employment increased in 24 states, held steady in six states, and declined in 20 states and D.C. California added the most jobs over the month (7,600 jobs, 0.8 percent), followed by Texas (2,600 jobs, 0.3 percent), New Jersey (4,000 jobs, 2.5 percent) and Minnesota (2,200 jobs, 1.7 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in Minnesota and Rhode Island (1.7 percent, 400 jobs), followed by North Dakota (1.5 percent, 400 jobs) and Mississippi (1.5 percent, 700 jobs).
Tennessee experienced the largest decline in construction jobs in February (-1,700 jobs, -1.1 percent), followed by Iowa (-1,600 jobs, -1.9 percent) and Virginia (-1,200 jobs, -0.6 percent). Hawaii had the largest percentage loss for the month (-2.0 percent, -800 jobs), followed by Iowa and Alaska (-1.8 percent, -300 jobs).
Association officials said most construction firms report they are having trouble finding enough workers to hire to keep pace with demand. As a result, many firms are opting not to bid on projects because they do not have enough people to do the work. Officials with the association urged Congress and the Biden administration to boost funding for career and technical education and to allow more workers with construction skills to legally enter the country.
“Infrastructure, the new green economy and semiconductor plants don’t build themselves, they need people,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “If federal officials are so eager to build these kinds of facilities, they should be willing to invest in the people needed to build them.”