The construction workforce was smaller in every state and the District of Columbia in January 2010 than it was just 1 year earlier, according to a new analysis of federal data released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). The data indicated the widespread reach of the downturn; 38 states and the District of Columbia experience double-digit percentage drops in construction employment.
“Construction employment is dropping everywhere and plummeting almost everywhere,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Looking at this data, it is quite clear that the construction industry has yet to hit bottom.”
Simonson noted that California lost more construction jobs (128,700) than any other state, while North Dakota lost the fewest jobs (200) over the past 12 months. The five states with the largest percentage decline in employment were Nevada (29.9 percent), Arizona (26 percent), Colorado (22.2 percent), Idaho (21 percent), and Florida (20.4 percent). The states that experienced the smallest percentage decline were: North Dakota (1 percent), Nebraska (4.1 percent), Alaska (4.2 percent), South Dakota (5.9 percent), and Arkansas (6.2 percent).
Even the monthly employment changes reflect the tough construction conditions; Simonson noted that 31 states lost construction jobs between December and January. Additionally, most of the states adding jobs for the month lost jobs in December, often more than they gained back in January. Simonson said this suggested the monthly data was affected by unseasonable weather conditions that also are likely to affect February’s state employment figures.
AGC officials cited the new state employment data in urging the Senate to pass a 10-month extension to the nation’s surface transportation program and for the administration to accelerate stimulus-funded construction projects. “As privately-funded construction activity continues to decline, federal investments in infrastructure are often the difference between a job and unemployment for what’s left of the industry,” says Simonson.