Although the U.S. construction industry added 48,000 jobs in February, the largest monthly gain in nearly six years, many Midwest states shed jobs during the same period, according to new data compiled by Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).
In year-over-year comparisons, Ohio lost 7,900 jobs and Illinois 7,500 jobs , the two steepest losses of any state in the nation. Indiana (-2,900,) and Michigan (-1,100) also lost jobs in February, indicating widespread weakness in the region.
Among Midwest states, only Missouri (+4,600) and Wisconsin (+600) showed improvement.
The region fared better in month-to-month comparisons, with Missouri (+4.3%), Indiana (+2.2%), Illinois (+1.4%), Wisconsin (+1.2%) and Michigan (+0.7%) all adding jobs between January and February. Ohio (-2.1%) lost jobs over the same period.
In all, only 12 states and the District of Columbia lost construction jobs between January and February, says AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. By comparison, 20 states lost construction jobs from February 2012 to February 2013.
“The turnaround in construction hiring that began in a few states two years ago has now spread to most of the country,” says Simonson. “There are strong indications that the expansion will continue for residential and private nonresidential construction, but investment in infrastructure and public buildings is likely to shrink further.”
Association officials cautioned that recent federal budget cuts could reverse the construction employment pickup in numerous states. States with large military and federal civilian facilities are particularly likely to experience a downturn in public construction and resulting loss of construction jobs, official say.