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From Staff Reports

Construction firms added jobs in 36 states between August 2013 and August 2014 while construction employment increased in 28 states between July and August, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that construction activity continues to spread across most of the nation even as employment gains remain uneven by month and state.

“The number of states with increases in construction employment over the last 12 months moderated in August but remained strongly positive as construction activity continues to spread across most of the nation,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “While most states remain far below pre-recession peak employment levels, more states are approaching previous highs and more contractors have been reporting difficulty in hiring qualified workers. These trends are likely to intensify if the recovery in construction continues.”

Florida added the most new construction jobs (43,500 jobs, 11.8 percent) between August 2013 and August 2014. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months included California (35,600 jobs, 5.6 percent), Texas (27,700 jobs, 4.5 percent), Illinois (11,100 jobs, 5.8 percent) and Pennsylvania (10,800 jobs, 4.8 percent). Nevada (12.8 percent, 7,200 jobs) added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Florida, Utah (11.4 percent, 8,400 jobs), Delaware (10.7 percent, 2,100 jobs) and North Dakota (9.4 percent, 3,200 jobs).

Twelve states and the District of Columbia shed construction jobs during the past twelve months, with construction employment unchanged in Idaho and New Hampshire. New Jersey lost the highest percentage and total, (-8.1 percent, -11,300 jobs). Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs include Mississippi (-7.1 percent, -3,700 jobs), West Virginia (-5.3 percent, -1,800 jobs) and Arizona (-4.4 percent, -5,400 jobs). Besides New Jersey, other states with heavy construction job losses between August 2013 and August 2014 included Arizona, Mississippi and West Virginia.

Twenty-eight states added construction jobs between July and August. California (13,600 jobs, 2.1 percent) added the most jobs, followed by Texas (6,900 jobs, 1.1 percent), Florida (6,100 jobs, 1.5 percent) and Minnesota (2,500 jobs, 2.3 percent). Nebraska (4.0 percent, 1,800 jobs) had the highest percentage increase for the month, followed by Maine (3.4 percent, 900 jobs), North Dakota (3.3 percent, 1,200 jobs) and Alaska (3.2 percent, 500 jobs).

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs for the month, while construction employment was unchanged in Arizona. Ohio (-3,500 jobs, -1.9 percent) lost the most construction jobs between July and August. Other states experiencing large monthly declines in total construction employment included Pennsylvania (-3,000 jobs, -1.2 percent), New York (-2,700 jobs, -0.8 percent) and New Jersey (-1,600 jobs, -1.2 percent). South Dakota (-4.1 percent, -900 jobs) experienced the highest monthly percentage decline, followed by Mississippi (-2.4 percent, -1,200 jobs), Idaho (-2.3 percent, -800 jobs) and Ohio.

Association officials said the employment gains were welcome news, but continued to urge elected and appointment officials to act on the measures outlined in the association’s workforce development plan. “Labor shortages are likely to become more severe without a better pipeline for preparing new workers,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

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