Washington and Oregon joined 37 other states that all posted employment gains between June 2015 and June 2016. Despite this long term positive growth in the industry, the month over month employment figures are less positive as 25 states, including Alaska, lost construction jobs month over month in June.
According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 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, the AGC cites an uptick in job openings at construction companies and a decline in the amount of workers available for hire.
While Washington saw a slight downturn in seasonally adjusted employment between May and June, the construction in the industry added 1,700 jobs during that span, 800 of which came from the specialty trade contractors, according to the state’s monthly employment release. The state’s monthly construction employment growth rate of 0.9% ranks 15th nationally, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
The state posted even starker gains in construction employment year over year, as the industry grew jobs at a rate of 7.2%. That rate, which equates to 12,500 jobs, ranks 11th nationally. Non-seasonally adjusted numbers have the state adding 15,300 construction jobs between June 2015 and June 2016, with 9,600 of those coming from the specialty trade contractors.
Overall, Washington lost 500 non-farm jobs between May and June, according to seasonally-adjusted numbers. Those losses came from the public sector as the private sector actually posted positive growth of 1,500 jobs. Washington’s unemployment rate is 5.8%, 0.9% higher than the national rate.
Oregon experienced significant job growth between May and June despite a rising unemployment rate. The construction industry was one of 10 industries that posted job gains during that time, adding 600 jobs during that time, according to the state’s monthly release. That equates to a 0.7% growth rate, which ranks 19th nationally. Overall, Oregon added 3,000 jobs in May.
Oregon added 6,100 construction jobs between June 2015 and June 2016, good for a 7.4% construction growth rate, which ranks ninth nationally.
The unemployment rate in Oregon rose 0.3% between May and June to 4.8%, which is below the national rate of 4.9%. This rise coincides with growth in Oregon’s labor market, which reached an all time high of 2,053,000.
The construction industry continues to face employment losses in Alaska as the state lost 100 construction jobs between May and June. Yearly, the industry lost 2,100 construction jobs in June. That -2.6% growth rate ranks 44th nationally, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
Overall employment in Alaska rose by 0.4% between June 2015 and June 2016. This growth comes despite job losses in construction, oil and gas, professional and business services, and state government.
Alaska’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.7% in June.
Wayne Schutsky contributed to this report.