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Skilled Labor Deficits Still Curbing Construction: AGC

Written by David Schollaert

Just about two-thirds of US states added construction jobs in December, while many job openings remained unfilled, according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

AGC said that open positions at the end of December remained high as demand for many types of commercial construction projects remain strong, adding that firms would likely have added more people if they could find workers.

construction2“Construction employment growth was less widespread in December than in some recent months as homebuilding slowed,” Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist, said in a statement. “But most nonresidential contractors continue to report strong demand and that they would like to add more workers than are available.”

Citing recent federal employment data, AGC said in December 30 states and the District of Columbia added construction employees, while 20 states lost jobs, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

California added the most construction jobs last month (+7,500 jobs, +0.8%), followed by New York (+6,400 jobs, +1.7%), Pennsylvania (+4,600 jobs, +1.8%), Louisiana (+3,300 jobs, +2.6%), and Florida (+3,300 jobs, +0.5%). The largest percentage gain occurred in Louisiana, followed by Arkansas (+1.8%, or +1,000 jobs), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island (+1.7%, or +400 jobs), and New York.

Missouri experienced the largest decline in construction jobs in December (-4,400 jobs, or -3.0%), followed by Washington (-3,700 jobs, -1.6%), New Jersey (-3,400 jobs, -2.2%), and Minnesota (-2,600 jobs, -2.0%). North Dakota had the largest percentage loss for the month (-6.4%, -1,900 jobs), followed by Missouri and Alaska (-2.8%, -500 jobs).

For the year, 40 states added construction jobs, industry employment declined in nine states and Washington, D.C., while employment was flat in Iowa.

California added the most jobs in 2022 (+41,100 jobs, or +4.6%), followed by Florida (25,500 jobs, 4.4%), Texas (+18,300 jobs, +2.4%), New York (+13,100 jobs, +3.5%), Tennessee (+12,900 jobs, +9.2%), and Utah (+12,900 jobs, +0.4%).

Rhode Island had the largest percentage increase, at 17.3%, or 3,500 more jobs, followed by Nevada (+13.4%, +12,800 jobs), Nebraska (+10.9%, +6,100 jobs), Utah, and Tennessee.

New Jersey lost the largest number and percentage of construction jobs over 12 months, down 8,900 jobs, a drop of 5.5%, followed by South Carolina (-4,900 jobs, or -4.7%).

Labor shortages in the industry remain a challenge for most firms, AGC said, urging Congress and the White House to reform the immigration system to allow skilled forging laborers to work in the industry. They also called for more funding for construction education and training programs.

“Investing in construction workforce development is one of the most effective ways to expand the middle class and create greater economic opportunity,” AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr said. “Unfortunately, most federal education funding today goes to encouraging people to go to college and enter the service sector instead of preparing for careers in fields like construction.”

By David Schollaert,

David Schollaert

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