Economy Watch: Worker Shortage Puts Clamp on Construction Hiring

Only 17 states added construction jobs in March, according to a recent Associated General Contractors of America analysis. While contractors in most states remain busy, they worry about being able to find enough workers to complete projects in the future.
Source: The Associated General Contractors of America March 2017 State Construction Employment Map
Source: The Associated General Contractors of America March 2017 State Construction Employment Map

Despite ongoing increases in commercial and residential development, only 17 states added any construction jobs in March compared with February, according to an Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) analysis of U.S. Labor Department data released on Tuesday. Thirty-nine states added construction jobs year-over-year in March, however.

AGC officials noted that contractors in most states remain busy for now, but worry about not being able to find enough workers to complete projects in the future. They also reported that more contractors are quoting longer completion times or passing up opportunities to bid on new projects as ways of coping with shortages of available qualified workers.

California added the most construction jobs between February and March (18,900 jobs, or 2.4 percent). Other states adding a high number of construction jobs include Georgia (4,700 jobs, 2.6 percent); Texas (4,000 jobs, 0.6 percent); Virginia (2,100 jobs, 1.1 percent) and Florida (1,900 jobs, 0.4 percent). New Mexico added the highest percentage of construction jobs during the past month (3.4 percent), followed by Georgia, California and Maine.

Construction employment declined in 30 states and D.C. during the past month and was unchanged in Montana, North Dakota and Wisconsin, the AGC reported. Illinois shed more construction jobs than any other state (down 7,100 jobs), followed by Louisiana (6,700 jobs) and Maryland (4,500 jobs). Alaska lost the highest percentage of construction jobs between February and March (down 4.9 percent), followed by Louisiana and Missouri (down 2.9 percent each).