The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, December 05, 2014

Construction on upward track in Michigan, nation

By The Building Tradesman

The construction industry in Michigan didn’t have a good October, but it has had a pretty good year.

Construction employment in Michigan dropped 1.7 percent from September to October 2014, but enjoyed a decent 3.3 percent gain for the 12-month period between October 2013 and October 2014. That percentage gain, amounting to an increase of 4,300 jobs, resulted in Michigan being ranked No. 23 in construction job growth over the past 12 months.

Michigan was one of only 13 states to lose construction jobs in October, but given the long-term trends, it’s expected that it’s a short-term drawback.  Our state had gained construction jobs in every previous month this year. Employment in U.S. construction has grown 3.9 percent this year after a 3.1 percent increased in 2013.The Associated General Contractors of America compiled the numbers and released them Nov. 21.

“These year-over-year and one-month changes show that construction is doing well in most of the country,” said Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist. “Yet, the list of states that have added construction jobs varies from month to month, showing that the industry’s recovery remains vulnerable to worker shortages and unfavorable governmental actions.”

Florida added the most construction jobs of any state (38,900 jobs, +10.2 percent) between October 2013 and October 2014. By percentage, North Dakota (+15 percent, 4,900 jobs) added the most new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Utah, Florida, Illinois and Wisconsin (all +7.2 percent, 7,000 jobs).

Between October 2013 and October 2014, neighboring Ohio lost 1,000 jobs (-0.5 percent, rank: No. 41), while Indiana saw a 2.8 percent increase in jobs (No. 27).

Twelve states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months: the largest percentage and total losses occurred in New Jersey (-8.1 percent, -11,100 jobs), Mississippi (-7.7 percent, -4,200 jobs), West Virginia (-7.6 percent, -2,600 jobs) and Kentucky (-7.6 percent, -5,200 jobs). Association officials said one reason job growth remains inconsistent in certain states is that many firms are struggling to cope with growing worker shortages, new regulatory burdens and flat, or declining, public sector investments in infrastructure and construction. “Many firms are having a hard time expanding their payrolls as wages rise, costs grow and market demand remains varies greatly from one segment to the next,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.