The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, August 29, 2014

More of the same, with slow growth for construction

By The Building Tradesman

Michigan gained 4,300 construction jobs from July 2013 to July 2014, another ho-hum increase that reflects a national trend of painfully slow but generally steady upward monthly increases in employment.

During that 12-month period Michigan ranked No. 26 among the states in construction employment increases. In the short-term, Michigan gained 1,300 jobs from June 2014 to July 2014.

The Associated General Contractors compiled the numbers, as they do every month, and released them Aug. 18.

“The overall trend in construction employment has been very consistent in 2014, with more than three-fourths of states adding jobs each month on a year-over-year basis,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “However, growing numbers of contractors say they are having trouble finding skilled workers or subcontractors that can supply such workers.”

Building trades union leaders have maintained that the skilled worker shortage in today’s construction marketplace mostly exists in the minds of construction contractors who rely on cheap and increasing scarce foreign labor.

Nevada experienced the largest percentage increase in construction employment between July 2013 and July 2014 (13.4 percent, 7,500 construction jobs), followed by Delaware (13.3 percent, 2,600 jobs) and Florida (11.1 percent, 40,600 jobs). Florida again led all states in the number of construction jobs added in the latest 12 months, followed by Texas (23,600 jobs, 3.8 percent) and California (22,600 jobs, 3.6 percent).

Only 11 states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs during that July to July period.

New Jersey lost the highest percentage and total (-6.5 percent, -8,900 jobs). Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs include West Virginia (-5.8 percent, -2,000 jobs), Mississippi (-5.6 percent, -2,900 jobs) and Arizona (-4.8 percent, -5,900 jobs).

Association officials said it is encouraging that a large majority of states added construction jobs for the year and the month. However, they cautioned that construction firms “in many parts of the country appear to be experiencing varying amounts of labor shortages.” The AGC said worker shortages appear most severe in fast-growing states like Colorado and Texas.