Illinois saw a nice uptick in construction employment (+3,900 jobs) between April and May, according to data compiled by Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Most other states saw an uptick too, now that construction season is in full sway.
In year-over-year comparisons, however, Illinois logged the worst employment losses (-6,200 jobs) in the nation in May. Ohio (-4,200 jobs) and Indiana (-3,900 jobs) also wound up in the cellar.
Of the states covered by ENR Midwest, only Missouri (+3,800 jobs) registered significant gains in construction employment for the month.
By and large, the numbers comport with those of similar comparisons performed by AGC this past winter and spring, meaning that 2013 is shaping up to be a worse year than 2012 in the Midwest.
The numbers are symptomatic of larger issues. Illinois unemployment is among the highest in the nation and well above the national average of 7.6%. AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson recently indicated that slow growth in Chicago and layoffs by Decatur-based Caterpillar are exacerbating conditions.
Michigan, meantime, has the problem of Detroit, and Indiana and Ohio the problem of a flagging industrial sector. Add to that poor fundamentals, including a poor bond rating and business-adverse tax structure in Illinois, and it's a prescription for slow to no growth.
The larger national economic recovery has been fitful and halting, as has the attendant recovery of the nation's construction industry. But positive housing news suggests that economy may be turning a corner, depending on the nature of fiscal policy from Washington in the year or so ahead. It will be interesting to see where the Midwest lands when things begin to shake out.