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July Slide in Midwest Construction Employment

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Construction employment declined in the majority of states in July, with most Midwest states proving no exception to the trend, according to new data compiled by Arlington, Va.-based  Associated General Contractors of America.

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Illinois lost the most jobs of any state in the nation, some 9,800 in all, or a 5% decline over the same period last year. Missouri (-9500 jobs),Wisconsin (-6,900 jobs) and Michigan (-6,100 jobs) also logged substantial losses in July. Only Indiana registered significant year-over-year employment gains in the Midwest, adding 9,500 jobs to its ranks, the fifth largest gain in the nation as a percentage of total construction workforce.

"Public construction cuts in particular are taking their toll on construction employment in many parts of the country," says AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. "With economic growth remaining sluggish, there is a chance construction employment will begin to slip in even more places."

Simonson notes that only 18 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between July 2011 and July 2012.

AGC data indicate that North Dakota added the highest percentage of new construction jobs (16.0%, 3,800 jobs), followed by Washington, D.C., (12.2%, 1,500 jobs) and Nebraska (10.0%, 4,100 jobs).

California added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months (27,300, 5.0%), followed by Texas (22,900, 4.1 percent) and Indiana (9,300, 7.8%).

Association officials caution that construction employment would continue to suffer from the impact of ongoing cuts to public construction budgets.. They also are urging officials in Washington to enact long-delayed infrastructure measures for water and other systems.

"The longer Washington waits to act on vital tax and infrastructure measures, the more construction workers will lose their jobs," says AGC President Stephen E. Sandherr. "The best way to boost employment and help the economy is to invest in basics like clean water and set predictable tax rates."

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