ARLINGTON, VA. — Thirty-two states added construction jobs in 2016 despite a shortage of skilled workers, according to an analysis of federal labour department data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and its own survey.
The AGC media release indicated that a dearth of experienced workers kept contractors in many states from hiring as many employees as they would have preferred.
Association officials said the new U.S. president Donald Trump administration could help by including workforce development measures as part of its promised new infrastructure program.
"Although the number of states reporting construction employment increases has dwindled, contractors are more upbeat than ever about the construction market and intend to hire more workers this year," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association.
"However, the shortage of workers is their top concern and nearly three-quarters of contractors say they are having a hard time filling positions."
The economist said the number of states with construction job gains declined to 32 in 2016 from 44 in 2015, yet a survey the association released earlier this month found that 73 per cent of respondents expect to add to their headcount in 2017.
Respondents had a positive view, on balance, of the dollar volume of projects this year across all 13 project types included in the survey.
However, 55 per cent listed worker shortages among the biggest concerns for them and their business, while 73 per cent said they were having a hard time filling salaried or hourly craft jobs.
Florida added the most construction jobs (22,300 jobs, up 5.1 per cent) during the past year. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include California (20,900 jobs, 2.8 per cent), Washington (13,500 jobs, 7.6 per cent); Colorado (11,000 jobs, 7.0 per cent) and Nevada (11,000 jobs, 15.3 per cent).
Nevada also added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year, followed by Oregon (9.0 per cent, 7,600 jobs), Iowa (8.3 per cent, 6,900 jobs), Minnesota (8.0 per cent, 9,300 jobs) and Washington.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia shed construction jobs between December 2015 and December 2016.
Illinois lost the highest number of construction jobs (-9,700 jobs, -4.5 per cent), followed by New York (-7,800 jobs, -2.1 per cent), Alabama (-6,100 jobs, -7.4 per cent) and Kentucky (-5,000 jobs, -6.4 per cent).
North Dakota (-7.4 per cent, -2,400 jobs) and Alabama lost the highest percentage for the year, followed by Kansas (-6.8 per cent, -4,200 jobs), Kentucky and Mississippi (-4.9 per cent, -2,300 jobs).