DC’s construction employment numbers lagged most of the nation in August, though the overall numbers for the Metropolitan Washington area probably weren’t so disappointing, given overall better numbers for Virginia and Maryland statewide.
Federal employment data compiled by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America shows a 0.7% employment loss, or 100 jobs. Meanwhile, statewide, Maryland’s employment remained unchanged, while Virginia gained 700 jobs, a 0.3% increase. (The data available doesn’t break down specific numbers for the DC-area suburbs).
This means in the past month, DC ranked 44th in the nation, Maryland ranked 31 and Virginia ranked 24. In the past year, however, Virginia fared the worst in the nation, with basically flat employment, ranking it 44th. Maryland ranked 32 and DC ranked 31 (gaining 2.0% or 200 jobs during the year.
Nationally, AGC says construction employment climbed in 31 states from July to August. The gains come even as the vast majority of contractors report they would have added more workers if they could find them, according to a the association released at the end of August. Association officials urged government officials to invest in new construction focused education and training programs to get more people into the industry.
“Despite an overall rise in construction employment, too many openings remained unfilled due to a lack of qualified workers,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “As a result, many projects are being delayed or even canceled.”
The association’s 2022 Workforce Survey, conducted with Autodesk and completed in August, found 93 percent of respondents had openings for hourly craft workers. The most common reason for difficulty in filling positions, cited by 77 percent of firms, was that available candidates were not qualified to work in the industry. Two-thirds of firms reported that projects had been delayed due to shortages of employees or subcontractors.
In August, 31 states added construction employees, 16 states and the District of Columbia lost jobs, and employment was flat in Maine, Maryland, and Nevada. Arizona added the most construction jobs over the month (5,300 jobs, 2.9 percent), followed by Illinois (3,500 jobs, 1.5 percent) and Georgia (3,300 jobs, 1.6 percent). The largest percentage gains was in Arizona, followed by Kentucky (2.4 percent, 1,900 jobs) and Utah (2.0 percent, 2,600 jobs).
Minnesota lost the most construction jobs in August (-1,900 jobs, -1.4 percent), followed by California (-1,700 jobs, -0.2 percent) and Missouri (-1,400 jobs, -1.0 percent). Wyoming had the largest percentage loss (-3.2 percent, -700 jobs), followed by Mississippi (-2.7 percent, -1,300 jobs) and Montana (-1.5 percent, -500 jobs).
Association officials said they expect demand to increase for a variety of construction categories, particularly for infrastructure, manufacturing plants, and power and energy projects, thanks in part to new federal investments in those sectors. They warned that projects will face increasing delays and become more expensive unless the pool of workers expands.
“New federal investments in construction training and education programs would help get more people into high-paying construction careers,” said Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Getting more people into construction will expand the middle class while also making it easier to modernize the economy.”