Construction Employment Increases in 44 States, But Lack of Qualified Workers Remains a Challenge
According to a recent analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), construction employment increased in 44 states in March compared to the previous year. However, only 20 states added construction jobs from February to March.
AGC officials note that while most contractors are still eager to hire, a lack of qualified applicants is hindering their ability to do so. As a result, the association has urged officials in Washington to strengthen employment-based immigration and fund more career and technical education. The need for skilled workers in the construction industry has been a longstanding issue, and it is important for policymakers to take action to address it.
Despite the challenges posed by the labor market, demand for construction projects remains strong in many states. According to AGC’s chief economist, Ken Simonson, the pullback in homebuilding and severe weather in California caused employment to drop in most states from February to March. However, construction employment continued to expand almost everywhere in March compared to a year ago, as demand for apartments, nonresidential building, and infrastructure remains strong in many states.
Texas added the most construction jobs over the year, followed by New York, Florida, and Indiana. Meanwhile, Rhode Island had the largest percentage increase in construction jobs, followed by Nevada, Montana, and Nebraska. However, some states saw declines in construction employment, with California losing the most jobs and West Virginia experiencing the largest percentage loss. Losses also occurred in Colorado, Connecticut, and South Dakota.
For the month of March, construction employment increased in 20 states and D.C., declined in 27 states, and held steady in Rhode Island, Alaska, and North Dakota. Texas added the most jobs over the month, followed by Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Louisiana. California experienced the largest decline in construction jobs in March, followed by Washington and Florida.
Despite the fluctuations, association officials say demand remains strong for massive manufacturing construction projects in numerous states. These projects include everything from data centers and semiconductor facilities to chemical plants and renewable energy facilities. Additionally, infrastructure and energy construction are expected to boom in the next few years, further driving demand for skilled workers in the construction industry.
However, meeting this demand will require addressing the industry’s labor shortage. The AGC has called for policymakers to take steps to address this issue, including increasing funding for career and technical education and streamlining the immigration system to allow for more skilled workers to enter the country.
In conclusion, while construction employment continues to expand in many states compared to the previous year, a lack of qualified applicants has hindered hiring for some contractors. The AGC has urged officials in Washington to address this issue by strengthening employment-based immigration and funding more career and technical education. Despite the challenges, demand for construction projects remains strong in many states, making skilled workers essential for the industry’s continued growth. As such, it is important for policymakers to take action to address the industry’s labor shortage and ensure that the construction industry can continue to thrive in the years to come.