Where the Jobs Are: Top 5 States for Construction Jobs
While U.S. construction job growth has been spotty in 2020-2021 due to the pandemic and supply chain issues, certain states have provided solid employment for construction-related workers.
According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, California and Texas led the way in total employment of construction and extraction workers as of May 2020, with each state counting over 600,000 jobs. Florida, New York and Pennsylvania followed, with totals ranging from approximately 200,000 to 400,000 jobs.
Top 5 States by Employment Level in Construction and Extraction Occupations
As a whole, coastal and Great Lakes states with larger population concentrations generally tallied more construction jobs than inland states, according to the BLS data. Of the 14 states with over 130,000 construction jobs, all but two – Arizona and Colorado – are at least partially along a major body of water.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages Report, May 2020
States with High Concentrations of Construction Jobs
When construction employment is viewed as a percentage of a state’s total jobs, other states rise to the top. Wyoming and North Dakota led the way in the BLS’s location quotient, which is the ratio of the area concentration of occupational employment to the national average concentration. A location quotient greater than one indicates the occupation has a higher share of employment than average, and a location quotient less than one indicates the occupation is less prevalent in the area than average. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages Report, May 2020 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages Report, May 2020
Areas with Growth
When looking for states with the most construction job growth during 2020-2021, yet another picture emerges. According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), construction job growth between February 2020 and July 2021 was more prevalent in Utah, North Carolina, Idaho, Washington and South Carolina. California, Texas and other states with the largest total number of construction jobs generally saw decreases during that period. In an August 2021 analysis, the AGC stated that construction employment in July 2021 remained below the levels reached before the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020 in 36 states. The AGC regularly analyzes data from BLS and other sources. Source: AGC
“This data shows that full recovery remains elusive for construction in most states,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In fact, the fast-spreading COVID-19 delta variant may make it harder to find employees eligible to work on restricted sites and may also depress demand if some owners defer projects.”
So jobs are out there, but workers may sometimes have to follow geographic and economic trends to find them. Meanwhile, employers seek to find qualified workers and projects with stable futures. As with many other industries, construction industry executives are hoping the influences from the pandemic and other factors will decrease in the days ahead and result in more consistent growth.
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Andrew Roe is a civil engineer and technical writer based in Minneapolis, MN. He is president of AGR Associates, Inc., and writes regularly for Fieldwire and various industry publications on construction, engineering, and other technology topics.