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U.S. Construction Jobs Growth Widespread, Canada’s Narrowly Focused

Alex Carrick
U.S. Construction Jobs Growth Widespread, Canada’s Narrowly Focused

June 2018’s figure on total employment in construction in the U.S., as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was +4.1% compared with June 2017. The comparable number for north of the border from Statistics Canada was a percentage point lower at +3.1%. But +3.1% was a commendable climb nonetheless.  

U.S. Construction Jobs Growth Widespread, Canada’s Narrowly Focused Graphic

Meanwhile, total jobs growth over the past year has been +1.6% in America and +1.2% in Canada. Clearly, with respect to hiring, the construction sector has commanded center stage in both countries.

While those national construction jobs advances have been stellar, the issue to be addressed in this article concerns how regional patterns have varied – i.e., by states and provinces.

First, to gain some perspective, accompanying Table 1 ranks nominal levels of construction employment in U.S. states and Canadian provinces. For Canada, the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have been combined into the Atlantic Region.

The four largest states by population are California (39.5 million July 1, 2017), Texas (28.3 million), Florida (21.0 million) and New York (19.8 million).

From Table 1, those same four states, and in the same order, are situated at the top of the ranking for the size of their construction workforces.

California has 864,000 construction workers, followed by Texas (763,000), Florida (542,000) and New York (416,000).

There is a next tier of seven states with construction payrolls of more than 200,000 but less than 300,000 – Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, Virginia and Georgia.

In a joint U.S.-Canada comparison, Ontario (with a population of 14.4 million) would place fourth for number of construction workers (534,000), behind Florida and ahead of New York.

Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia would also appear prominently in U.S.-Canada combined, since their construction workforces exceed 200,000.

Table 1: U.S. and Canadian Construction Employment
U.S. States – Construction Employment
June 2018 – Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA)
 
Rank State No. of Workers
1 California 863,600
2 Texas 763,100
3 Florida 541,700
4 New York 415,500
5 Pennsylvania 265,500
6 Illinois 241,800
7 Ohio 237,300
8 North Carolina 221,400
9 Washington 211,700
10 Virginia 203,700
11 Georgia 201,800
12 Michigan 187,100
13 Colorado 174,400
14 Massachusetts 168,100
15 Maryland 167,100
16 Arizona 161,300
17 New Jersey 157,300
18 Louisiana 152,100
19 Indiana 150,600
20 Minnesota 136,100
21 Wisconsin 133,600
22 Tennessee 124,400
23 Missouri 124,200
24 Oregon 106,800
25 Utah 106,400
26 South Carolina 99,700
27 Nevada 91,400
28 Alabama 87,900
29 Iowa 84,400
30 Kentucky 79,100
31 Oklahoma 77,800
32 Connecticut 65,300
33 Kansas 63,000
34 Nebraska 54,700
35 Arkansas 53,000
36 Idaho 50,000
37 New Mexico 48,700
38 Mississippi 45,100
39 Hawaii 36,300
40 West Virginia 35,300
41 Maine 31,500
42 Montana 31,100
43 North Dakota 29,800
44 New Hampshire 29,400
45 South Dakota 25,200
46 Delaware 23,300
47 Wyoming 21,600
48 Rhode Island 20,400
49 Alaska 17,200
50 Vermont 16,300
51 District of Columbia 16,100
 
Canadian Provinces – Construction Employment
June 2018 – Seasonally Adjusted (SA) 
 
Rank Province No. of Workers
1 Ontario 534,000
2 Alberta  251,600
3 Quebec 247,600
4 British Columbia 234,200
5 Atlantic Region 79,800
6 Saskatchewan 50,900
7 Manitoba 47,700
Figures for Delaware, D.C. and Hawaii include mining & logging as well as construction.
Data for Canada’s northern territories is not available.
Data sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics & Statistics Canada (14-10-0355-01).
Table: ConstructConnect.

Table 2 highlights that the regional distribution of construction’s employment pickup in the U.S. has been widespread. There have been construction job hikes in 42 states, plus the District of Columbia, over the past year. Only eight states have recorded declines.

In Canada, the big gains in construction employment have been narrowly focused, occurring in just two provinces, Alberta (+7.0% y/y) and Ontario (+6.0%).

According to percentage increases, the states that have been leading U.S. construction jobs growth have been: Arizona, +10.0% y/y; Georgia, +9.1%; Michigan, +8.3%; Oregon, +7.8%; West Virginia, +7.6%; and Massachusetts and New Hampshire, both +7.3%.

The five states demonstrating the most weakness in construction employment have been: South Carolina, -3.3% y/y; New Jersey and Missouri, tied at -2.4%; Alaska, -1.1%; and North Dakota, -1.0%.

In nominal terms, the states with the most uplift in construction employment have been the four population and workforce frontrunners: California, +44,300; Texas, +42,500; Florida, +32,800; and New York, +19,300.

Another five states have managed construction jobs increases of more than 10,000 since the mid-point of last year: Georgia, +16,900; Arizona, +14,600; Michigan, +14,400; Massachusetts, +11,500; and Illinois, +11,000.

Ontario, +30,200, and Alberta, +16,500, have also achieved outsized gains in construction employment during the latest 12 months. 

Table 2: U.S. and Canadian % Change in Construction Employment
U.S. States – % Change in Construction Employment
June 2018 vs June 2017 – Based on NSA Data
 
Rank State No. of Workers
1 Arizona 10.0%
2 Georgia 9.1%
3 Michigan 8.3%
4 Oregon 7.8%
5 West Virginia 7.6%
6 Massachusetts 7.3%
6 New Hampshire 7.3%
8 Nevada 6.8%
9 Wisconsin 6.6%
10 Florida 6.4%
11 Rhode Island 6.3%
12 Connecticut 6.2%
12 Utah 6.2%
14 Maine 6.1%
14 New Mexico 6.1%
16 Texas 5.9%
17 Idaho 5.7%
18 California 5.4%
18 Delaware 5.4%
20 Indiana 5.0%
21 New York 4.9%
21 Wyoming 4.9%
23 Illinois 4.8%
24 North Carolina 4.5%
25 Colorado 4.4%
26 Iowa 3.8%
27 Alabama 3.7%
27 Minnesota 3.7%
27 Washington 3.7%
30 Mississippi 3.4%
31 Virginia 3.2%
32 South Dakota 2.9%
33 Montana 2.6%
34 Louisiana 2.4%
34 Tennessee 2.4%
36 District of Columbia 1.9%
36 Kansas 1.9%
36 Nebraska 1.9%
39 Ohio 1.8%
40 Pennsylvania 1.5%
41 Arkansas 1.1%
41 Maryland 1.1%
43 Hawaii 0.0%
44 Oklahoma -0.3%
45 Kentucky -0.5%
46 Vermont -0.6%
47 North Dakota -1.0%
48 Alaska -1.1%
49 Missouri -2.4%
49 New Jersey -2.4%
51 South Carolina -3.3%
 
Canadian Provinces – % change in Construction Employment
June 2018 vs June 2017 – Based on SA Data
 
Rank Province % change No. of Workers
1 Alberta  7.0%
2 Ontario 6.0%
3 British Columbia 0.3%
4 Quebec -0.4%
5 Manitoba -1.6%
6 Saskatchewan -1.9%
7 Atlantic Region -2.9%
Figures for Delaware, D.C. and Hawaii include mining & logging as well as construction.
Data for Canada’s northern territories is not available.
Data sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics & Statistics Canada (14-10-0355-01).
Table: ConstructConnect.

Graphs 1 through 4 show how current construction employment levels in Florida, California, New York and Texas compare with their previous peaks.

While construction employment in Florida has recovered to a significant degree, its latest level is still 21.7% below its earlier highwater mark.

Graph 1: Florida − Employment in Construction − Seasonally Adjusted (SA)
Florida − Employment in Construction
Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Like Florida, California is not all the way back, but its shortfall is a more modest 8.5%.

Graph 2: California − Employment in Construction − Seasonally Adjusted (SA)
California − Employment in Construction
Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Chart: ConstructConnect.

Now for the success stories. The present level of construction employment in the state of New York is 9.3% above its prior ‘best’. And Texas has surged beyond its 2008 summit by 11.4%.

Graph 3: New York − Employment in Construction − Seasonally Adjusted (SA)
New York − Employment in Construction
Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Chart: ConstructConnect.
Graph 4: Texas − Employment in Construction − Seasonally Adjusted (SA)
Texas − Employment in Construction
Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Chart: ConstructConnect.

The two accompanying maps show the year-over-year change in state construction employment in a slightly different light.

The states shaded in green have recorded construction jobs increases greater than the national average of +4.1%. As set out in the ‘legend’, the deeper the shade of green, the faster the rate of jobs improvement.

The states shaded in blue have fallen below the national rate of construction jobs increase. The more intense the hue of blue, the further they have stumbled behind.

The split between green and blue is as even as it can be. There are 25 states that have beaten the national average and there are 25 states, plus the District of Columbia, that are stragglers.

The even distribution is another confirmation that the overall strength in construction employment in the U.S. is not due to any small cluster of states.

Regionally, there’s good news on many fronts.

Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Graphic: ConstructConnect.

Map 1: U.S. State Construction Employment, June 2018 vs June 2017
(greater than the U.S. nation-wide rate of +4.1%)

U.S. State Construction Employment, June 2018 vs June 2017  (greater than the U.S. nation-wide rate of +4.1%)

Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Graphic: ConstructConnect.

Map 2: U.S. State Construction Employment, June 2018 vs June 2017
(lower than the U.S. nation-wide rate of +4.1%)

U.S. State Construction Employment, June 2018 vs June 2017  (lower than the U.S. nation-wide rate of +4.1%)

Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Graphic: ConstructConnect.

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