The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, December 02, 2011

Michigan’s construction employment takes a big hit

By The Building Tradesman

The fickle finger pointing out trends in construction employment gave a thumbs down to Michigan in October, as our state was among the biggest month-to-month losers in jobs. But solid gains in construction employment for Michigan in October 2011 compared to October 2010 places us 10th among the states.

Michigan was one of 23 states that shed construction jobs from September to October, dropping 3,900 jobs, or 3.0 percent – the third worst decline. Our state had been riding a hot streak this year: this was the first month-to-month decline in jobs in 2011.

Unfortunately, the loss of those 3,900 jobs means that in a single month, Michigan gave back many of the 4,500 jobs it gained from October 2010 to October 2011. The employment numbers were released Nov. 22.

“Construction employment gains are likely to remain spotty for months to come,” said Ken Simonson, the AGC’s chief economist. “Local factors, rather than regional or industry trends, seem to dictate whether a state has rising or falling construction employment in a given month.”

Among the 25 states that lost construction jobs over the past 12 months, Georgia experienced the steepest decline in percentage and total (-9.5 percent, -13,800 jobs). New Mexico was second-worst in percentage terms (-9.2 percent, -4,100 jobs), followed by Wisconsin (-8.6 percent, -8,100 jobs).

North Dakota, Oklahoma and the District of Columbia led the nation in construction percentage job gains over those 12 months.

The AGC said the failure of the congressional “super committee” charged with reaching a deal to cut the U.S. deficit has the potential to undermine construction employment. They noted that the mandatory federal spending reductions that are now scheduled to go in place in the absence of a deal would likely cut needed investments in vital infrastructure projects across the country.

“Allowing water, transportation and energy networks to deteriorate will hurt construction employment and force taxpayers to spend more later, to fix broken infrastructure,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Neglecting the fundamental systems needed to support our economy and quality of life is no way to balance the budget or boost employment.”