The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 31, 2013

Construction employment remains mired in Michigan

By The Building Tradesman

The years-long slump that has its grip on construction employment in Michigan remains firmly in place, as the industry’s jobless rate increased by 3.3 percent from April 2013 compared to April 2012.

Michigan has lost construction jobs each month since the beginning of 2013 – and that consistency has placed us consistently in the bottom half among the states in industry employment. Our state lost 1,200 jobs from March to April 2013, and dropped a total of 4,300 jobs (-3.3 percent) from April 2012 to April 2013. That year-to-year number ranks us near the bottom (No. 40) among the states in construction employment.

“The industry shows signs of recovering but employment growth continues to be uneven, with some areas seeing stronger gains even as others continue to contract,” said Ken Simonson, the Associated General Contractors’ chief economist, on May 17. “In addition, recent federal construction spending cuts amid still modest private sector growth is making it hard for the industry to recover in more areas.”

The AGC reported that 29 states added jobs from April to April, while 21 lost jobs, with Michigan among them. Based on numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan had 125,000 workers in the construction industry in April 2103, down from 129,300 workers a year prior.

From April 2012 to April 2013, Hawaii led all states in the percentage of new construction jobs (11.5 percent, 3,300 jobs); followed by Alaska (9.1 percent, 1,500 jobs) and Louisiana (8.1 percent, 10,200 jobs). California added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months (44,800, 7.7 percent), followed by Texas (41,500 jobs, 7.1 percent).

Among the states losing construction jobs during the past year, Vermont lost the highest percentage (-11.3 percent, -1,700 jobs), followed by South Dakota (-9.6 percent, -2,100 jobs) and Rhode Island (-8.6 percent, -1,400 jobs). Illinois lost the most jobs (-12,900 jobs, -6.8 percent), followed by Ohio (-9,200 jobs, -5.0 percent) and Indiana (-5,600 jobs, -4.4 percent).

The AGC urged Congress and the Obama Administration to reconsider its current approach of making indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts to a range of federal construction programs. “While the industry ultimately needs broader private sector demand to truly recover, boosting infrastructure investments will certainly help,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. “The last thing Washington should be doing is taking steps that undermine the sector's nascent recovery.”