Southwest Construction Employment Is Strong Year-Over-Year, But Hits Speed Bump In January
Construction employment across the Southwest dipped by 3,400 jobs in January compared to December, led by a month-over-month decline of 1,800 construction jobs in Nevada, a loss of 1,700 jobs in New Mexico and tempered by a very moderate gain in Arizona, according to data by the states and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the three states that comprise the Southwest, preliminary statistics reveal there were 230,400 working in the construction industry in January 2015, compared to 233,800 in December 2014.
While the month-over-month totals show a decline, year-over-year construction employment in the Southwest states has increased by 6,900, once again led by Nevada. In January 2014, 223,500 were employed in the construction industry in the Southwest states.
The construction sector in Arizona saw minimal growth month-over-month, with 100 more jobs in January compared to December. According to the BLS, 126,100 were employed in the state’s construction industry in January 2015. Approximately 300 jobs were gained in “buildings construction” but were partially offset by losses in “heavy construction,” which lost 100 jobs, and “specialty trades,” which also lost another 100 jobs according to the Arizona Department of Administration’s March report.
The construction gains are atypical for the month of January in Arizona, according to the state report, “which has had a post-recessionary— 2010 to 2014 — average loss of 3,400 jobs.”
Year-over-year, the gains in construction employment are more substantial in the Grand Canyon state, at 2,400 jobs.
The report also noted that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Arizona held steady in January at 6.6%, after falling from 6.7% in December. The private sector accounted for 38,000 of lost jobs in January, followed by government, which accounted for 12,500.
The state of Nevada’s recent stretch of strong construction employment took a hit in January 2015 as statistics reveal a loss of 1,800 jobs: from 64,500 in December 2014 to 62,700 in January 2015. Year-over-year, however, the construction industry has a gain of 7.9 percent, with 4,600 more employed in the industry in January 2015 compared to January 2014, according to numbers provided by the Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation.
“We think that job growth will continue through 2015, and, over time, that will put downward pressure on the unemployment rate,” said Bill Anderson, chief economist for Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. “Clearly, the underlying trend in jobs is one of consistent improvement.”
The only two sectors to lose jobs were mining and logging, down 400 jobs, and government employment, down 1,800, according the DETR’s report.
In addition to the job growth in Nevada, there has also been an increase in average weekly wages according to the report. Average weekly wages are currently at $840 a week, up $4 from a year ago according to the report, though the report did also mention that the wages are still struggling to keep up with inflation.
In the Land of Enchantment, the construction industry saw a loss of 1,700 jobs month-over-month from December 2014 (43,300) to January 2015 (41,600), according to data provided by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
New Mexico is the only state in the Southwest to also log job losses year-over-year. The loss was 100 jobs: 41,700 were employed in the construction industry in January 2014.
The 0.2 percent job loss in the construction industry year-over-year was the lowest among industries that recorded losses. Leisure and hospitality as well as manufacturing both lost 0.7 percent in that same time period according the report. Leisure and hospitality lost 600 jobs and manufacturing lost 200.
The report notes that the losses would have been reduced were it not for significant upward revisions in January of 2014.
New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down overall in, from 6.0 percent in December to 5.9 percent in January according to the report.