The four states in America with the largest populations are California (40 million), Texas (28 million), Florida (21 million) and New York (20 million). Combined, they account for 110 million people and one-third of the U.S. total resident count.
Not unexpectedly, they also hold positions one through four (and in the same order) in a ranking of states by number of construction jobs − click on earlier story, Construction Jobs Regionally by Level and Change, U.S. and Canada, and go to Table 1.
There have, however, been somewhat diverse patterns of construction jobs levels in those four states and that will be the subject of this article. Our exploration will proceed with the help of accompanying Graphs 1 through 5.
Graph 1 shows the monthly seasonally-adjusted (SA) number of jobs in the construction sector in each of the four states from January 2000 to the present.
There was a brief period in 2004-06, when construction employment in Florida shot ahead of the number of on-site jobs in Texas. From 2007 through 2011, however, when the recession and its aftershocks were most severe, construction employment in Florida contracted by half, or -50%.
From 2010 on, the number of construction jobs in Florida has been approximately 200,000 less than in Texas.
California’s peak-to-trough recessionary drop in construction jobs, at -40%, was nearly as bad as Florida’s. The Golden State’s numbers fell so far as to be a match with Texas between 2010 and 2012. From 2013 on, California has pulled somewhat ahead again.
The recession-induced pullbacks in construction jobs in Texas and New York happened a couple of years later than for California and Florida, and when they did eventually occur, they were much gentler, at -15%.
Where does each of the four states now stand with respect to its pre-recession peak? The answer to this question will determine our winner on the jobs creation front.
The Lone Star state is the headline performer. Graph 2 for Texas shows a current level of construction employment that is +13.9% versus its prior peak in early 2008.
Graph 3 for New York highlights a level of construction employment that has climbed +9.8% above a previous summit that was also registered in 2008.
The latest flattening of the curve for construction employment in California in Graph 4 has settled in at a level -8.5% below the previous peak, which came in early 2006.
Finally, Florida is the state with the most ground still to make up. Its present number of construction jobs is one-fifth (-19.6%) under what was realized in early 2006.