PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island in January saw construction employment increases on both a year-over-year and month-over-month basis, according to an Associated General Contractors of America release Monday.
The state ranked 21st in the nation for its construction employment percentage gain from January 2017 to January 2018, with an increase of 3.3 percent (600 jobs). From December 2017 to January, the Ocean State added 300 jobs, which represented a 1.6 percent increase, good for a No. 7 rank among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Rhode Island joins 35 states and Washington, D.C., in year-over-year construction employment increases. West Virginia led the nation in percentage job growth, at 14.4 percent, which was the result of an addition of 4,300 jobs. California had the largest nominal increase in jobs, with 75,500 (a gain of 9.8 percent). North Dakota had the largest decline in construction jobs, percentage-wise, at 15.8 percent (a loss of 4,600 jobs).
Year-over-year construction jobs changes in New England, with national rank:
- New Hampshire, 5.4 percent gain, 1,400 jobs, No. 14
- Massachusetts, 4.8 percent gain, 7,200 jobs, No. 16
- Maine, 1.4 percent decline, 400 jobs, No. 40
- Vermont, 2 percent decline, 300 jobs, No. 42
- Connecticut, 2.4 percent decline, 1,400 jobs, No. 46
Month-over-month changes in construction jobs for New England states, with national rank:
- New Hampshire, 1.9 percent gain, 500 jobs, No. 4
- Vermont, 0.7 percent gain, 100 jobs, No. 19
- Connecticut, 0.5 percent loss, 300 jobs, No. 40
- Massachusetts, 0.9 percent loss, 1,400 jobs, No. 45
- Maine, 1.4 percent loss, 400 jobs, No. 46
While the ACG lauded the increase in employment in the press release, the association warned of the potential impact President Donald Trump’s proposed new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will have on construction jobs.
“The widespread growth of these good-paying [construction] jobs is encouraging,” said Ken Simonson, the ACG’s chief economist, in a statement. “But many of the jobs are at risk if unwise tariffs push up material costs, making projects unaffordable, and if the nation continues to underfund infrastructure investment.”
ACG CEO Stephen Sandherr said in a statement that construction firms will have to absorb the steel and aluminum price increases the new tariffs cause, making it more difficult to create new jobs.
“The irony here is that by seeking to help one sector of our economy, the president is likely to damage the rest of it,” Sandherr said.
Lauren Aratani is a PBN contributing writer.