Construction jobs growing but skilled workforce nearly tapped out

During the past year, construction firms added jobs in 39 states but the availability of skilled workers is beginning to fall short of demand.

Nevada led the way with the largest yearly percentage gain while Florida added the largest number of jobs, according to an analysis of Labor Department data that the Associated General Contractors of America released on Monday.

{mosads}"The overall trend in construction employment has been very consistent in 2014, with more than three-fourths of states adding jobs each month on a year-over-year basis,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.

“However, growing numbers of contractors say they are having trouble finding skilled workers or subcontractors that can supply such workers.” 

Nevada added 7,500 jobs, a 13.4 percent increase, followed by Delaware (13.3 percent, 2,600 jobs) and Florida (11.1 percent, 40,600 jobs).

Florida again led all states in the number of construction jobs added in the last 12 months, followed by Texas (23,600 jobs, 3.8 percent) and California (22,600 jobs, 3.6 percent).

Meanwhile, the District of Columbia and 11 states shed construction jobs during the past year, with New Jersey losing the highest percentage and total (6.5 percent, 8,900 jobs).

Other states that lost a high percentage of jobs include West Virginia (5.8 percent, 2,000 jobs), Mississippi (5.6 percent, 2,900 jobs) and Arizona (4.8 percent, 5,900 jobs). 

But concerns abound that demand may be outpacing the labor force.

“We are at real risk of going from a situation where firms couldn’t hire because there wasn’t enough demand to firms not being able to hire because there aren’t enough qualified workers,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.