Illinois construction employment continued to decline between May and June with a loss of 1,000 workers, bringing the overall employment numbers to 215,900, according to US Labor Department data compiled by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America. This ranked the state 33th in the nation. (On an annualized basis, the losses of 1,700 workers are even more dismal; Illinois ranks 44th.)
Overall, between June 2016 and June 2017 construction employment climbed in 41 states, while the story is more mixed in the May/June period, with 25 states adding jobs.
AGC officials said the smaller number of states adding workers in the latest monthly report may indicate a shortage of qualified job seekers, rather than a slowdown in demand for construction.
“Contractors in most of the country say they have plenty of projects booked and would like to hire more workers if they could find them, so it is likely that some states with monthly employment declines have a shortage of workers available to hire rather than a slowdown in work,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. “Given the low unemployment rate in most states, other industries are competing hard for workers, making it difficult for contractors to find new construction workers, let alone experienced ones.”
California added the most construction jobs (46,500 jobs, 6.0 percent) during the past year. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (32,400 jobs, 6.9 percent), Louisiana (15,600 jobs, 11.1 percent), Texas (14,400 jobs, 2.1 percent) and Oregon (11,200 jobs, 12.5 percent). Rhode Island added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year (13.4 percent, 2,400 jobs), followed by Nevada (12.6 percent, 9,500 jobs), Oregon and New Hampshire (11.1 percent, 2,800 jobs).
Eight states and the District of Columbia shed construction jobs between June 2016 and June 2017. The District lost the highest percentage for the year (-5.7 percent, -900 jobs), followed by Alaska (-4.9 percent, -800 jobs), South Dakota (-3.7 percent, -900 jobs), Mississippi (-2.6 percent,-1,400 jobs) and Missouri (-2.6 percent, (-3,100 jobs). Missouri lost the largest number of construction jobs), followed by Illinois (-1,700 jobs, -0.8 percent), Mississippi, D.C. and South Dakota. Construction employment was unchanged over the year in Iowa.
Between May and June, California had the largest numerical increases (8,100 jobs, 1.0 percent), followed by Florida (5,100 jobs, 1.0 percent), New Jersey (4,200 jobs, 2.7 percent), Louisiana (4,000 jobs, 2.6 percent), Nevada (2,100 jobs, 2.5 percent) and Missouri (2,100 jobs, 1.8 percent). New Jersey had the largest percent gain for the month, followed by Louisiana, Nevada, West Virginia (2.3 percent, 700 jobs) and New Hampshire
Twenty-one states lost construction jobs between May and June. Georgia had the largest numerical loss (-4,000 jobs, -2.2 percent), followed by Colorado (-3,500 jobs, -2.2 percent), Massachusetts (-2,800 jobs, -1.9 percent), Michigan (-2,800 jobs, -1.7 percent) and Wisconsin (-2,700 jobs, -2.4 percent). Wisconsin lost the highest percentage of construction jobs for the month, followed by Georgia and Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan and Wyoming (-1.4 percent, -300 jobs). Construction employment was unchanged for the month in Arkansas, Maine, New Mexico and North Dakota.
Association officials urged Washington officials to help address growing labor shortages in the construction industry by taking steps to expand training opportunities for students and young adults. Such steps include expanding investments in secondary career and technical education, making it easier to establish apprenticeship training programs in all market types and allowing for more charter schools and career academies that focus on construction skills.
“The need for more craft workers in fields like construction is growing every month,” Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer for the association, said. “There is a correspondingly urgent need to put in place measures that can expand training opportunities for people considering careers in construction.”