Construction jobs slide in half the U.S. recently, though up from year ago

Construction jobs dropped between May and June in 25 states, though 39 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between June 2014 and June 2015, the Associated General Contractors of America, based on an analysis of Labor Department data, said last week.

The recent slide comes at a time when Congress is short on money to pay for highway projects, with funding authorization for transportation infrastructure projects on life support and set to expire on Friday.

“Passing a long-term highway and transit bill will provide the kind of funding certainty many construction firms need to expand payrolls and invest in new equipment,” Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), said. “The series of short-term transportation funding extensions Congress has passed has clearly had a negative impact on the construction industry’s recovery.”

The construction job slump hit Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio and Rhode Island especially hard, but jobs increased between June 2014 and June 2015 in other states, including New York, Minnesota, Hawaii and Arkansas, the AGC, which analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Labor, said.

“While the year-over-year totals remains relatively positive, the monthly construction employment figures are troubling,” Ken Simonson, chief economist for the AGC, said. “Investing in transportation infrastructure will make it easier for many firms involved in highway and transit construction to add new staff.”

Eleven states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months, with West Virginia (-12.8 percent, -4,300 jobs) losing the highest percentage of construction jobs.

Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs include Rhode Island (-9.6 percent, -1,600 jobs); Mississippi (-7.9 percent, -3,900 jobs) and Ohio (-7.9 percent, -3,900 jobs). The largest job losses occurred in Ohio, West Virginia and Mississippi.

But California added more construction jobs (47,000 jobs, 7.0 percent) between June 2014 and June 2015 than any other state.

A complete employment list by states can be found online at https://www.agc.org/sites/default/files/Files/Communications/State_Empl_201506_Alpha.pdf.

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