Most Midwest states logged increases in construction employment in April, with Illinois and Indiana showing particular improvement following a tepid start to the year, according to year-over-year data compiled by Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

By percentage, Michigan led the region  (5,600 jobs, 4.3%), followed by Ohio (7,600 jobs, 4.2%), Missouri (4,000 jobs, 3.8%), Wisconsin (3,700 jobs, 3.8%), Illinois (5,200 jobs, 2.8%) and Indiana (-100 jobs, -0.1%).

By comparison, Indiana shed 1,000 to 3,000 jobs in February and March. Job growth in Illinois was nearly flat, less than 1%, for the same period. Economists predict both states will benefit from growing industrial demand this year.  

In all, construction firms added jobs in 39 states from a year earlier and in 29 states between March and April. AGC officials welcomed the mostly positive figures but cautioned that recovery remains fragile, with employment below previous peaks in every state except North Dakota.

“Growing demand for a range of construction services and better weather helped boost construction employment in most states in April,” says AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson, “but we are still a long way away from getting back to the kind of employment levels the industry experienced nearly a decade ago.”

AGC officials indicated Congressional action on key infrastructure measures, including legislation that would make it easier for states to fund road, bridge and transit projects, could help sustain industry recovery, as could legislation to fund waterways, ports and dams.  

“If members of Congress really want to help the economy, they need to act quickly to make sure we don’t run out of federal road and bridge repair money by this summer, as the government predicts,” says AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr.