U.S. construction employment edged closer to stabilization in June, as half of the states added construction jobs or saw no change from May, The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America reports in an analysis of federal employment data. Compared with June 2009, construction employment rose in six states, the largest number of states to post year-over-year increases since October 2008.
"It is encouraging to see some states adding construction jobs and the declines in others getting less severe," Ken Simonson, AGC of America's chief economist, said. "But there's little room to celebrate with overall construction employment at a 14-year low and demand for most construction services still weak."
The largest year-over-year increase was in Kansas, where construction employment rose 7.7 percent (4,400 jobs). The next-largest year-over-year increases were in Alaska (3.1 percent, 500 jobs), Arkansas (2.4 percent, 1,200 jobs), West Virginia (2.4 percent, 800 jobs), and New Hampshire (2.3 percent, 500 jobs).
The largest year-over-year decrease was in Nevada, where construction employment fell 24.4 percent (19,500 jobs). The next-largest year-over-year decreases were in Vermont (18.5 percent, 2,500 jobs), Wyoming (16.6 percent, 4,000 jobs), and Washington (14.3 percent, 22,900 jobs). California lost the largest number of jobs: 74,400 (12 percent).
From May to June, Kentucky experienced the highest percentage increase in construction employment (2.4 percent, 1,600 jobs), followed by New Mexico (2.1 percent, 900 jobs), Massachusetts (1.9 percent, 2,000 jobs), Utah (1.5 percent, 1,000 jobs), and Nebraska (1.5 percent, 700 jobs).
From May to June, Wyoming experienced the highest percentage decrease in construction employment (6.9 percent, 1,500 jobs), followed by Vermont (5.2 percent, 600 jobs), Nevada (4.7 percent, 3,000 jobs), Idaho (3.7 percent, 1,100 jobs), and Iowa (3 percent, 1,900 jobs).
Simonson said the abundance of workers and firms eager to work, combined with relatively low materials costs, makes construction services more affordable than they have been in years. He noted the Producer Price Index for construction dropped 0.9 percent in June.
"In a few months, however, many companies are likely to have closed their doors, and materials costs will be rising again," Simonson said.
AGC of America officials noted that projects funded with federal stimulus money have added to the construction-job tally in many states. They warned, however, that the money soon will run out.
"Any improvements ... will be difficult to sustain, unless Congress quickly passes long-term funding for transportation, drinking-water, and wastewater infrastructure," Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC of America's chief executive officer, said.