A booming gas industry has helped West Virginia increase construction job growth. The nation-leading 14.4% increase in the state’s construction workforce created 4,300 new jobs between January 2017 and January 2018, according to an Associated General Contractors of America report. The state’s percentage gain ranked above California (9.8%, 75,500 jobs), Nevada (9.7%, 7,800 jobs) and New Mexico (9.7%, 4,300 jobs).
Major pipeline projects such as TransCanada’s Leach Xpress project kept West Virginia workers busy. The year-long project put into service in January was built by 5,000 workers. New pipeline projects getting underway have the potential to bring more construction jobs to the state. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is slated to begin full construction later this spring.
Overall, the AGC report shows 35 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs year over year. But AGC chief economist Ken Simonson cautioned that the Trump administration’s “unwise” tariffs on steel and aluminum could hurt growth.
AGC also reported that 15 states lost construction jobs. North Dakota saw the largest percentage decrease with a whopping 15.8% decline, or 4,600 jobs. Iowa (-5.9%, -4,600 jobs) and Nebraska (-3.1%, -1,600 jobs) also lost jobs.
West Virginia’s growth comes about three years after its 7.2% decline was the nation’s worst between March 2014 and March 2015. Steve White, director of Affiliated Construction Trades, a division of the West Virginia state building trades, says the turnaround brought the state back to prerecession levels, but “much of the commercial and government building construction remains depressed.”