Construction employment increased in 30 states in March but only one Midwest state, Wisconsin, was among those that logged gains, according to year-over-year data compiled by Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Moreover, growth was relatively modest in Wisconsin, which added only 1,000 jobs  (+ 1.1%) in March.

Losses were mild in Missouri (-800, -5.2%) but significantly steeper in Ohio, (-9,500, -5.2%), Illinois (-8.500, -4.4%),  Michigan (-4,000, -3.1%) and Indiana (-3,100, -2.5%).

Midwest states also fared poorly in month-to-month comparisons. While Indiana (+900, 0.7) and Wisconsin (+200, 0.2%) eked small gains over February levels,  Missouri (-3,400, -3.2%), Ohio (-3,300, -1.9%), Michigan (-3,100, -2.4%), and Illinois (-1,300, -0.7%) all logged losses.

Declines in Missouri, Ohio and Michigan were the greatest in the nation for the same period  Economists variously cite high unemployment, public debt, low population growth and inhospitable business conditions for the region's struggling economy.

Month-to-month employment growth was particularly strong in New York (+6,000, 1.9%) and Connecticut (+2,900, +5.7%), the probable result of recovery work from Hurricane Sandy, says AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. Florida  (+5,500, 1.6%) also performed well in March.

Employment data for March generally reflect industry expansion, but at a slower pace than in February.

“A majority of states are adding jobs month by month and year-over-year,” says Simonson. “The expansion appears poised to continue for residential and private nonresidential construction. But investment in infrastructure and public buildings is still on a downward path. That will keep employment down in states with a large federal presence.”