Majority of contractors “still eager to hire” but worker shortages persist

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Florida Construction News staff writer

Construction employment increased in 44 states last month compared to a year earlier, while only 20 states added construction jobs from February to March, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America.

Most contractors report they are “still eager to hire” but have been stymied by a lack of qualified applicants. They urged officials in Washington to strengthen employment-based immigration and fund more career and technical education.

“A one-two punch from a pullback in homebuilding and unusually severe weather, especially in California, caused employment to drop in most states from February to March,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist. “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.”

Between March 2022 and last month, 44 states added construction jobs, while industry employment declined in five states.

Florida was in third place (15,100 jobs, 2.6 percent), behind Texas (41,200 jobs, 5.4 percent), and New York (18,200 jobs, 4.7 percent). West Virginia reported the largest percentage loss (-7.5 percent, -2,500 jobs). Losses also occurred in Colorado (-1,800 jobs, -1.0 percent), Connecticut (-1,800 jobs, -2.9 percent) and South Dakota (-300 jobs, -1.2 percent).

California experienced the largest decline in construction jobs in March (-8,200 jobs, -0.9 percent), followed by Washington (-3,600 jobs, -1.5 percent) and Florida (-2,300 jobs, -0.4 percent). Connecticut had the largest percentage loss for the month (-2.9 percent, -1,800 jobs), followed by Washington.

Association officials said demand remains strong for massive manufacturing construction projects in numerous states, while infrastructure and energy construction is expected to boom in the next few years, but the industry will need more skilled workers to produce these facilities. They called on officials in Washington to allow more employment-based immigration and to increase funding for career and technical education to enable more Americans to gain the skills needed for rewarding construction careers.

“There’s an immediate need for workers that can’t be satisfied domestically,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “At the same time, Washington should help more Americans prepare for the expanding opportunities in construction by providing adequate funding for career and technical programs.”

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