Rhode Island’s subpar infrastructure system has consistently ranked among the worst in the country, but the Ocean State is finally fixing its crumbling roads and bridges. In 2016, the state launched a 10-year, $4.7-billion transportation investment program that aims to rehabilitate 90% of its structurally deficient bridges in 10 years.
Generating 3,700 jobs, the program helped Rhode Island lead the nation with the largest year-over-year percentage gain in state construction employment.
According to the Associated General Contractors of America, construction jobs increased by 13.4% from June 2016 to June 2017, or by approximately 2,400 workers. “We’re finally making headway,” says Stefan Pryor, the state’s secretary of commerce. “We’re generating economic activity, and businesses and developers are taking notice.” Pryor points to current projects such as the 93,800-sq-ft manufacturing facility for Finlay Extracts and Ingredients USA.
Overall, 41 states added construction jobs in the past year. California topped the list with 46,500 jobs, or a 6% increase, followed by Florida (32,400 jobs, 6.9%) and Louisiana (15,600, 11.1%). Rhode Island had the highest year-over-year percentage increase, followed by Nevada (12.6%, 9,500 jobs), Oregon (12.5%, 11,200 jobs) and New Hampshire (11.1%, 2,800 jobs). Eight states and the District of Columbia lost jobs in the past year. The District of Columbia was the worst, decreasing by 5.7%, or 900 jobs. Alaska (-4.9%, 800 jobs) and South Dakota (-3.7 %, 900 jobs) declined, too.
“It is likely that some states with monthly employment declines have a shortage of workers available to hire, rather than a slowdown in work,” Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist, said in a statement.