By Zachary Phillips
- Construction employment increased in 45 states in February compared with a year ago, according to analysis of federal employment data by the Associated General Contractors of America.
- Texas saw the largest number of jobs added, increasing by 37,900, or 5%, from February 2022 to February 2023. West Virginia saw the largest drop, losing 2,200 jobs, or 6.5%, over that time period.
- From January to February, construction employment increased in 24 states, held steady in six and declined in 20 and Washington, D.C. “Unfavorable weather may have held back construction in many states last month compared to January,” said Ken Simonson, the AGC chief economist. “But construction employment continued to expand almost everywhere in February compared to a year ago, despite a slump in homebuilding.”
Most construction firms report trouble finding enough workers to keep pace with demand. Many contractors are opting not to bid on projects as a result, because they simply do not have the staffing to complete and deliver the work, according to AGC.
AGC officials have urged Congress and the Biden administration to increase funding for career and technical education and to open doors to permit foreign workers with construction experience to more easily enter the country legally.
The Department of Labor has recently announced initiatives to train and employ women and minorities — underrepresented groups in construction — so that they can find a strong career path and fill the gap in demand. The agency hopes the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will create an opportunity for workers seeking good-paying jobs, who then realize their future in construction.
Nevertheless, the gap is wide. The IIJA will likely continue to push demand higher. Even as large infrastructure projects come to town, builders are competing over a small pool of staff for their work.
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