32 states add construction jobs in September; labor shortages persist

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

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New Jersey lost more jobs than any other state last month, as 32 added construction jobs led by Florida and New York, according to data released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). However, significant labor shortages in the industry likely held back even larger employment gains.

“While it is encouraging to see construction employment expanding in a majority of states, it is tempting to imagine how much higher those gains would have been if contractors could find enough workers to hire” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC chief executive officer, noting that a recent survey by the association found 91 percent of firms are having a hard time finding workers to hire.

Florida added the most construction jobs (6,900 jobs, 1.2 percent) between August and September, followed by New York (4,200 jobs, 1.1 percent); Virginia (3,300 jobs, 1.6 percent); Michigan (3,200 jobs, 1.8 percent) and Ohio (2,100 jobs, 0.9 percent). North Dakota had the highest percentage increase (4.6 percent, 1,300 jobs) in construction employment for the month, followed by Kansas (2.4 percent, 1,600 jobs); Connecticut (2.1 percent, 1,300 jobs) and Wyoming (1.9 percent, 400 jobs).

Among the 15 states and D.C. to lose the most construction jobs between August and September, New Jersey lost the most (-2,700 jobs, -1.7 percent). Other states losing a high number of construction jobs included Texas (-2,600 jobs, -0.3 percent); Alabama (-2,500 jobs, -2.4 percent) and Arizona (-1,700 jobs, -0.9 percent). Alabama had the highest monthly percent decline in construction employment, followed by Vermont (-2.0 percent, -300 jobs); New Jersey and Oklahoma (-1.1 percent, -900 jobs). Three states had no change in their construction employment levels for the month.

California added the most construction jobs (44,500 jobs, 4.8 percent) between September 2021 and September 2022, followed by Texas (43,200 jobs, 5.5 percent); Florida (24,400 jobs, 4.1 percent) and Ohio (13,000 jobs, 5.6 percent). North Dakota had the highest rate of growth (17.3 percent, 4,800 jobs); followed by West Virginia (13.5 percent, 4,400 jobs); New Mexico (11.0 percent, 6,000 jobs) and Alaska (10.4 percent, 1,800 jobs).

Sandherr urged Congress and the Biden administration to boost funding for career and technical education programs. He also called for measures to allow more people with construction skills to lawfully work as a short-term measure to relieve labor shortages.

“This industry needs more workers to help hard hit communities rebuild, improve infrastructure, and modernize our energy and manufacturing sectors,” he said.

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