Construction employment in Illinois has contracted significantly in recent months, according to the nation-wide employment report released by the Associated General Contractors (AGC). The number of employees declined by 2,700 or -1.2 percent in July, to 214,300 from 217,600. Overall, through the year, the employment rate has increased slightly by .05 percent from 213,200 in July 2015. The state ranks 38th in terms of overall employment growth.
Thirty-nine state added construction jobs between July 2015 and July 2016 while construction employment only increased in 23 states and the District of Columbia between June and July, according to analysis of Labor Department data released by the AGC. Association officials said construction employment likely declined in many states as firms have growing difficulty locating qualified workers to hire.
“Depending on market segment and geography, many firms report they are having a hard time finding enough workers to keep pace with demand,” AGC’s chief executive officer Stephen E. Sandherr said in a statement. “While there is slack in key segments like infrastructure and parts of the country that are struggling economically, many of these declines likely have more to do with firms not being able to find workers than not being able to find work.”
California added the most construction jobs (29,100 jobs, 4.0 percent) between July 2015 and July 2016. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (26,400 jobs, 6.1 percent), Colorado (16,100 jobs, 10.9 percent) and Iowa (12,800 jobs, 16.5 percent). Iowa added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Hawaii (12.9 percent, 4,500 jobs), Idaho (12.6 percent, 4,800 jobs) and Colorado.
Kansas lost the highest number of construction jobs (-4,400 jobs, -7.3 percent) for the year. Other states that lost jobs for the year include North Dakota (-2,900 jobs, -8.5 percent), Alabama (-2,400 jobs, -3.0 percent), Kentucky (-2,300 jobs, -3.0 percent), Wyoming (-1,700 jobs, -7.5 percent) and Maine (-1,500 jobs, -5.7 percent). Construction employment was unchanged for the year in the District of Columbia.
Texas added the most construction jobs between June and July (7,800 jobs, 1.1 percent). Other states adding a high number of construction jobs for the month include Pennsylvania (3,900 jobs, 1.7 percent), Florida (3,100 jobs, 0.7 percent), Tennessee (2,600 jobs, 2.1 percent) and Colorado (2,600 jobs, 1.6 percent). Idaho added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month (4.6 percent, 1,900 jobs), followed by New Hampshire (2.8 percent, 700 jobs), Arkansas (2.3 percent, 1,100 jobs) and Mississippi (2.2 percent, 1,000 jobs).
Construction employment declined in 27 states during the past month and held steady in Alaska. Ohio shed more construction jobs than any other state (-3,600 jobs, -1.7 percent), followed by New Jersey (-3,200 jobs, -2.1 percent), New York (-2,800 jobs, -0.8 percent), Illinois (-2,700 jobs, -1.2 percent) and Louisiana (-2,100 jobs, -1.5 percent). Delaware lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between June and July (-2.3 percent, -500 jobs), followed by New Jersey, Kentucky (-2.0 percent, -1,500 jobs) and Wyoming (-1.9 percent, -400 jobs).
Association officials said construction firms that work on infrastructure projects or in parts of the country where the economy is not growing are still struggling to find work to keep their teams busy. They added however that firms working in fields like private commercial development in states where the economy remains robust continue to worry about having finding qualified workers. They added that the association will release new workforce shortage data later this month that provides more information about current labor market conditions.
“What is clear from the data is there is not one single labor market for the construction industry,” Sandherr said. “Where demand is strong, labor is tight, and where demand is weak, labor conditions are better.”
Image: The AGC employment map.