Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between January 2017 and January 2018, while 32 states and D.C. added construction jobs between December and January, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data released March 12. Association officials cautioned, however, that newly imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum products are likely to undermine future job growth in the sector.
“The widespread growth of these good-paying jobs is encouraging,” said chief economist Ken Simonson. “But many of the jobs are at risk if unwise tariffs push up materials costs, making projects unaffordable, and if the nation continues to underfund infrastructure investment.”
California added the most construction jobs (75,500 jobs, 9.8 percent) during the past year. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (28,600 jobs, 5.8 percent); Texas (28,100 jobs, 4.0 percent) and Washington (16,500 jobs, 8.5 percent). West Virginia added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by California; Nevada (9.7 percent, 7,800 jobs) and New Mexico (9.7 percent, 4,300 jobs).
Fifteen states shed construction jobs between January 2017 and January 2018. North Dakota lost the highest percentage of construction jobs, by far (-15.8 percent, -4,600 jobs), followed by Iowa (-5.9 percent, -4,600 jobs) and Nebraska -3.1 percent, -1,600 jobs). North Dakota and Iowa lost the largest number of jobs for the year, followed by Louisiana (-3,400 jobs, -2.3 percent) and Missouri (-3,000 jobs, -2.5 percent).
“It is noteworthy that the three states with the largest job gains were all recovering from natural disasters, in addition to having generally robust economies,” Simonson commented. “The job losses in North Dakota and other Plains states may have more to do with severe weather conditions this January than a long-term downtrend.”
Thirty-one states and D.C. added construction jobs between December and January. California added the most (11,100 jobs, 1.3 percent), followed by Florida (5,100 jobs, 1.0 percent) and Washington (3,100 jobs, 1.5 percent). New Mexico added the highest percentage of construction jobs for the month (3.0 percent, 1,400 jobs), followed by Alaska (2.5 percent, 400 jobs) and Nevada (2.2 percent, 1,900 jobs).
Seventeen states lost construction jobs between December and January, while construction employment was unchanged in Kansas and New York. Pennsylvania lost the most construction jobs for the month (-4,300 jobs, -1.7 percent), followed by Missouri (-2,400 jobs, -2.0 percent) and Louisiana (-2,100 jobs, -1.5 percent). Nebraska lost the highest percentage of construction jobs (-2.3 percent, -1,200 jobs), followed by Missouri; Pennsylvania; North Dakota (-1.6 percent, -400 jobs) and Louisiana.
“Many construction firms will be forced to absorb the increases in steel and aluminum prices these new tariffs are already causing, making it even harder to add new personnel,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The irony here is that by seeking to help one sector of our economy, the President is likely to damage the rest of it.”