AGC: Construction Falls in 49 States in September

Oct. 21, 2009
Only Louisiana was up, by 2.1%

Construction employment again declined in large numbers in all but one state in September when compared to last year, according to an analysis of new state-by-state employment figures released today by the federal government. The analysis, conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America, also found that the number of states gaining construction jobs from August to September 2009 declined after increasing during the two previous months.

“While there’s little doubt construction employment would have been worse without the stimulus, there’s no question that the industry continues to shed jobs at an alarming rate,” says Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. “The stimulus remains an important measure, but until private-sector demand for construction resumes, there’s little chance the current construction employment decline will turnaround or even stop.”

The five biggest percentage losses in construction employment over the year occurred in Nevada (27.8%, or 31,100 jobs), Arizona (25.3%, or 45,900 jobs), Michigan (22.3%, or 15,700 jobs), Tennessee (21.5%, or 28,400 jobs) and Kentucky (19.5% or 16,500 jobs). Forty-one states saw double-digit percentage decreases in construction employment for the year. Meanwhile, construction employment only expanded in Louisiana during the past year, with a 2.1% increase, totaling 2,800 jobs.

Simonson notes that when compared to the previous month, the construction employment picture deteriorated slightly this September, with 36 states shedding construction jobs, 13 (including Washington, D.C.) adding construction jobs, and two states remaining stable, compared to 30 states losing, 16 adding and five (including D.C.) remaining stable in August.

The largest monthly percentage gains were a 2.4% rise in Connecticut (1,200 jobs); 1.7% each in Oklahoma (1,200 jobs) and the District of Columbia (200 jobs), 1.5% in Alabama (1,300 jobs) and 1.4% in New Hampshire (300 jobs).

The largest percentage losses for the month were a 4.1% decline in Nevada (3,500 jobs) and Arkansas (2,200 jobs), a 3.2% decline in North Dakota (700 jobs), a 3% decline in Florida (12,800 jobs), and 2.8% declines each in Michigan (3,400 jobs), New York (9,500 jobs) and New Jersey (4,000 jobs). (The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics combines construction with mining and logging in seven locations to prevent disclosing information about industries with few employees.)

“These figures should serve as a sobering reminder that public investments alone are not going to turn around a trillion dollar construction industry,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The three most important issues in Washington ought to be jobs, jobs and jobs, which is why we need pro-growth measures like those we outlined in our blueprint for recovery,” Sandherr adds.