Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico joined 36 other states that all posted employment gains between June 2015 and June 2016. Despite this long-term positive growth, the month-over-month employment figures are less positive: 25 states, including New Mexico, lost construction jobs month-over-month in June.
The monthly construction employment losses have less to do with demand for workers and more to do with a lack of skilled workers available in the market. As evidence of this, there has a been an uptick in job openings at construction companies and a decline in the amount of workers available for hire, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
Despite an overall employment downturn in Arizona, construction was one of six industries in the state that posted gains between May and June of this year, adding 3,100 jobs, according to seasonally-adjusted numbers from the Associated General Contractors of America. The state’s construction employment growth rate of 2.3% during that span ranks fourth nationally.
The yearly outlook for the sector is also promising as Arizona added 11,000 seasonally-adjusted construction jobs between June 2015 and June 2016. That equates to a growth rate of 8.7%, which ranks fifth nationally. Construction also posted the fifth largest employment gains of any sector in Arizona during that span.
There are approximately 137,700 people employed by the construction industry in Arizona as of June.
Overall, non-farm employment in Arizona was down 1.5%, or 39,700 jobs, month-over-month in June. The bulk of those losses came in the form of government jobs as the sector shed 40,700 positions between May and June. The state’s unemployment rate increased by 0.2% month over month in June to 5.8%, which is 0.9% above the U.S. unemployment rate. On a yearly basis, Arizona’s employment grew by 3.2% as the state added 81,400 jobs between June 2015 and June 2016.
Nevada has nearly reached pre-recession employment but that recovery is not being felt across all sectors and industries. According to the state’s monthly employment release, the construction industry is still roughly 75,000 jobs short of reaching pre-recession levels. Still, the state posted an 8.7% year over year construction employment growth rate, which ties Arizona for the fifth highest rate nationally. That equates to 6,000 construction jobs added during that span, according to seasonally adjusted numbers.
Nevada lost 400 construction jobs month over month in June. Nevada’s overall non-farm employment fared better, however, as the state added 7,500 jobs, the largest month over month employment gain in the state in 11 years. Despite overall employment growth, Nevada’s unemployment rate went up to 6.4% in June, though the state blames this on a growing workforce rather than lost jobs.
“We question this month’s marked increase in the unemployment rate, especially given very encouraging overall job trends,” says Bill Anderson, chief economist for Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. “In light of this, a long-term view is necessary in order to more accurately assess underlying trends in the unemployment rate...Also of note, the labor force in Nevada continues to expand, which has offset any downward pressure on the unemployment rate. Relative to May, the labor force is up over 2,000. For the first half of the year, it is up 14,500 relative to the first six months of 2015.”
Approximately 75,200 are employed by the construction industry in Nevada as of June 2016.
New Mexico
Employment in New Mexico remained relatively stagnant as the unemployment rate remained fixed between May and June at 6.2%. The construction industry saw similar stagnation, posting a net gain/loss of zero jobs during that span, according to the state’s non-seasonally adjusted numbers. However, seasonally-adjusted numbers have the state losing 500 construction jobs between May and June.
On a yearly basis, New Mexico added 500 construction jobs. That is good for a 1.2% growth rate, which ranks 34th nationally. Approximately 43,600 are employed in New Mexico’s construction industry.
Overall, non-farm employment in New Mexico grew by 14,000 jobs year over year in June and the unemployment rate dropped by 0.4%.
Wayne Schutsky contributed to this report.