Illinois added 4,000 construction jobs between April and May this year, putting the state fourth in the nation according to Department of Labor data analyzed by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA). This stunning recovery helped improve the otherwise dismal labor market conditions compared to the nation overall for the year: Overall, the state lost 1,700 jobs in the year ending May 31, representing a loss of 0.8 percent, putting Illinois 44th in the nation.
In total, there were 217,900 construction jobs in May 2017 compared to 216,400 the same time last year. (The job loss would have been 5,700 if conditions didn’t improve so much in May.)
Overall, 42 states added construction jobs between in the past year amid growing demand for construction services, while 25 states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs between April and May as firms struggle to find enough workers, the AGCA reported.
Association officials said workforce shortages appear to be impacting construction employment in parts of the country.
“There is still plenty of private-sector demand for construction projects, so it is likely that some states with monthly employment declines have a shortage of workers rather than a slowdown in work,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. “Given the low unemployment rate in most states, it is hard for contractors to find new construction workers, let alone experienced ones.”
California added the most construction jobs (38,900 jobs, 5.0 percent) during the past year. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (31,000 jobs, 6.6 percent); Louisiana (12,600 jobs, 9.1 percent); Washington (10,700 jobs, 5.8 percent); Texas (10,600 jobs, 1.5 percent) and Oregon (9,800 jobs, 10.9 percent). Rhode Island added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year (12.8 percent, 2,300 jobs), followed by Oregon; Nevada (10.9 percent, 8,100 jobs); New Hampshire (9.5 percent, 2,400 jobs) and Louisiana.
Association officials said Washington officials can help address growing labor shortages in the construction industry by putting in place measures that expand training opportunities for students and young adults. This includes 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.
“Having the President talk about the need for more craft workers in fields like construction is helpful,” said AGCA chief executive officer Stephen E. Sandherr. “Now it is time to act on those good intentions by putting in place measures to expand training opportunities for people considering careers in construction.”