Midwest builders continued see improving employment conditions in July, reversing months of declines in year-over-year comparisons, according to data compiled by Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Of the six states covered by ENR Midwest, only Indiana (-8,600, -7%),  and Ohio (-2,900, -2%) logged job losses for the month. Job gains were greatest in Missouri (+7,800, 7%), followed by Wisconsin (3,700, 4%,), Michigan (1,400, 1%) and Illinois (1,300, 1%).

By comparison, Illinois shed 12,900 jobs and Ohio 9,200 job losses in April, among the steepest year-over-year losses in the nation.

Major cities in the region also saw improvements in July, with St. Louis adding 3,900 jobs (7%), Milwaukee 3,500 jobs (14%) and Chicago 3,000 jobs (+2%).

In all, construction employment increased in 201 out of 339 metro areas in July. Further, employment gains spread to more metropolitan areas between July 2012 and July 2013 than in previous months, though only a few areas have surpassed pre-recession employment levels, says AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. 

“Construction employment is at an all-time July high in only 19 metro areas,” Simonson says.  At the other extreme, construction employment declined in 90 metros in the past 12 months, and 28 areas have lost at least half of the construction employees they once had.”

AGC officials note that employment in many metro areas appears to be benefiting from steady growth in demand for private-sector projects, particularly residential construction. However, construction spending and employment levels are 25% below peak levels from 2006, with demand for public projects remaining relatively weak.