New York leads nation with 3.9% drop in construction jobs last year

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New York Construction Report staff writer

Construction employment increased in 35 states last year, while 32 states added construction jobs between November and December, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released recently by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America.

New York lost 15,600 construction jobs in 2023, 3.9 percent of the workforce and the highest number of any state, followed by Colorado (-4,400 jobs, -2.4 percent), North Carolina (-3,700 jobs, -1.5 percent), and Washington (-2,700 jobs, -1.1 percent). New York also had the largest percentage loss, followed by Hawaii (-3.6 percent, -1,400 jobs), North Dakota (-3.1 percent, -800 jobs), and Rhode Island (-3.1 percent, -700 jobs).

New York also had the largest percentage loss, followed by Hawaii (-3.6 percent, -1,400 jobs), North Dakota (-3.1 percent, -800 jobs), and Rhode Island (-3.1 percent, -700 jobs).

For the month, construction employment increased in 32 states, declined in 15 states and D.C., and was unchanged in Wyoming, Indiana, and Alaska. New Jersey added the most jobs over the month (3,800 jobs, 2.4 percent), followed by Pennsylvania (3,700 jobs, 1.4 percent), Michigan (3,300 jobs, 1.8 percent) and Texas (2,500 jobs, 0.3 percent). The largest percentage gain occurred in South Dakota (4.1 percent, 1,200 jobs), followed by West Virginia (3.1 percent, 1,000 jobs), and New Jersey (2.4 percent, 3,800 jobs).

Association officials said the employment gains reflect strong demand for construction but a tight labor market is preventing firms from adding even more workers.

“Construction demand remains strong in many parts of the country, especially for infrastructure, manufacturing and data center projects,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But a paucity of qualified workers is holding back further employment gains and impacting project schedules and budgets.

Association officials are urging members of Congress to boost funding for construction-specific education programs this year as they work to renew both the Perkins Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Exposing more students and workers to construction skills will better prepare workers while attracting more people to pursue construction careers, they noted.

“The best way to address the industry’s workforce shortages in the long run is by investing in construction training and education programs,” Sandherr said. “It is time to stop urging every student to accumulate college debt when many could be making good money, debt-free, by starting careers in construction.”

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