Wisconsin was among 45 states and the District of Columbia to add construction jobs between February 2014 and February 2015, though it gave back some of the gain between January and February of this year, according to an analysis of federal data released Friday by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Jobs tracked by AGC for this data are both union and non-union and fall into both the broad commercial building sector and the residential construction, or single-family home, sector, AGC spokesman Brian Turmail said Monday. The association represents more than 26,000 firms nationally, including over 6,500 general contractors and 9,000 specialty contractors, plus more than 10,500 service providers and suppliers to the industry, through a nationwide network of chapters.
On the jobs data, the association said construction firms in Wisconsin added 7,500 jobs in the 12-month period ending February 2015, for a 7.4 percent gain to 108,700 that ranked it 13th among the 50 states. Texas added the most construction jobs during this period, at 44,600, which represented a 7 percent gain, while North Dakota ranked first among the states for the largest percentage added, at 14.7 percent thanks to 4,800 jobs.
From January through February of this year, 33 states added construction jobs, while 17 states, including Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, saw losses. On this measure, New York lost the highest number of jobs, at 3,800, representing 1.1 percent, while Alaska lost the largest percentage, at 3.8 percent, for 700 lost jobs.
Wisconsin shed 1,300 construction jobs from January 2015 to February 2015, for a 1.2 percent loss, the association said. That ranked it 44th among the states.
At Madison-based NCI Construction, partner Robin Roberts said his 50-employee, open-shop company includes about 35 field workers who self-perform laborer and carpenter trade work including demolition, rough and finished carpentry, cabinets and hardware.
Roberts said his company does enough design-build work and negotiated contracts in a variety of market sectors — including nonprofit, municipal and private sector — to keep busy through most ups and downs in the field, having even maintained a “core group” of some 20 field workers during the long recession, he noted.
“Our employee base is very, very stable,” Roberts said. “Almost all of our employees have been here for five years, and many for 10 and 15 years.”
Association officials in the news release said “growing labor, funding and regulatory challenges” could threaten future job gains. The regulatory challenges involved a proposed new OSHA rule on silica standards.
Going forward, the AGC also cited “growing shortages of qualified construction workers” as a labor challenge, with uncertainty over federal spending for transportation and other infrastructure seen as another threat to recovery.