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Midwest Sees Steep Construction Employment Declines in December

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Construction employment plunged in the Midwest, as in other regions, in December, according month-to-month comparisons compiled by Arlington, Va.- based Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Ohio proved the exception in the Midwest, adding 4,000 jobs in December, a turnabout after several months of declines. By comparison, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin posted job losses ranging from -1.900 to -7,000.

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From November to December, construction employment decreased in 32 states and increased in 18 states. Gains tended to be modest, in the 1% to 3% range.

Though the onset of winter may account for December's declines, “we want to make sure they are more about the weather than a sudden downturn in demand,” says AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson.

Other AGC officials indicated December's numbers are cause for concern, citing continued need for federal support of transportation and infrastructure programs. “There are few better ways to protect our economy and help workers than investing in infrastructure,” AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr indicated in a statement.

Year-over-year comparisons for December proved more encouraging, indicating job gains in 34 states and losses in 16 states. Rebound states, including California (+28,900 jobs, 4.8%), Florida (+28,800 jobs, 8.4%)  and Texas (13,500 jobs, 2.3%), fared particularly well, as did Colorado (7,000 jobs, 6%) Georgia (+9,900 jobs, 7.1%) and Virginia (+5,400 jobs, 3.2%).

Earlier this week, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that U.S. construction rose 0.1% in December, to a seasonally adjusted rate of $352.6 billion, down from a .08 increase the previous month. Private residential construction, the majority involving single-family housing, drove December's growth, according to the Commerce Department.

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