Construction employment increased in 40 states and the District of Columbia in October from a year earlier, while 22 states added construction jobs from September to October, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America today. Association officials said more states would likely have added construction jobs if the pool of available, qualified workers were larger.
“The number of states with construction job gains has been tapering off in recent months,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But contractors still report strong demand for workers, suggesting that the slowdown in hiring is due to a lack of qualified workers, not a weakened demand for projects.”
Between October 2022 and October 2023, 40 states and D.C. added construction jobs, while industry employment declined in eight states and held steady in Connecticut and Virginia. California added the most construction employees over the year (21,000 jobs or 2.3 percent), followed by Ohio (17,700, 7.5 percent), Texas (17,000 jobs, 2.1 percent), Louisiana (12,900 jobs, 10.3 percent), and Kentucky (12,300 jobs, 14.9 percent). Kentucky had the largest percentage increase over 12 months, followed by Arkansas (13.3 percent, 7,700 jobs), Louisiana, Oregon (9.4 percent, 11,000 jobs), and Wyoming (9.1 percent, 1,900 jobs).
Colorado lost the most construction jobs during the past 12 months (-7,200 jobs, -3.9 percent), followed by Missouri (-4,400 jobs, -3.2 percent), North Carolina (-4,000 jobs, -1.6 percent), Washington (-2,600 jobs, -1.1 percent), and North Dakota (-2,300 jobs, -8.5 percent). North Dakota had the largest percentage loss, followed by Colorado, Missouri, Hawaii (-1.6 percent, -600 jobs), and North Carolina.
For the month, construction employment increased in 22 states, declined in 26 states and D.C., and was unchanged in New Jersey and Vermont. Ohio added the most jobs over the month (6,000 jobs, 2.4 percent), followed by California (4,500 jobs, 0.5 percent), Florida (2,500 jobs, 0.4 percent), Indiana (2,500 jobs, 1.5 percent), and Kentucky (2,400 jobs, 2.6 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in Kentucky, followed by Ohio, Indiana, and Idaho (1.3 percent, 900 jobs).
Tennessee lost the most construction jobs in October (-2,900 jobs, -1.9 percent), followed by Louisiana (-2,200 jobs, -1.6 percent) and North Carolina (-2,100 jobs, -1.6 percent). Rhode Island had the largest percentage loss (-4.5 percent, -1,000 jobs), followed by Tennessee, Mississippi (-1.9 percent, -2,900 jobs), and Louisiana.
Association officials noted that many member firms report applicants lack the qualifications needed to safely work in construction positions. And while many firms are boosting investments in worker training as a result, association officials called for improvements in the way most school districts prepare future workers. They also urged federal leaders to boost funding for construction education and training programs.
“The nation’s education and training programs are failing to properly prepare workers who are employable for the sectors that are hiring,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Fixing the way the nation prepares workers will go a long way to boosting economic activity in many parts of the country.”