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Frigid Jan. Fails to Put Chill on Regional Construction Employment

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After disappointing month-to-month losses in December, construction employment rose in many Midwest states in January, despite brutal weather in many parts of the region, according to data compiled by Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

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Only Indiana (-4,300 jobs, -3.4%) and Missouri (-3,300 jobs, -3.1%) failed to see job gains in January, while Illinois (2,900 jobs, 1.5%), Michigan (1,500 jobs, 1.1%) and Wisconsin (1,600 jobs, 1.6%) enjoyed modest upticks for the same period.

By comparison, construction employment in Ohio (+8,000, 4.3%) surged for the second-consecutive month. In December, employment leaped by 4,000 jobs in Ohio.

In all, construction employment increased in 27 states from December to January, according to AGC. Employment increased in 38 states in year-over-year comparisons, with Ohio (11,600 jobs, 6.3%) leading the region.

In February, general unemployment in Ohio (6.5%) dipped to its lowest level since 2008, a trend Gov. John Kasich has variously attributed to implementing tax cuts, privatizing economic development and balancing the state's budget.

Economists predict construction employment in Ohio will continue to grow as global demand for manufactured product increases.

AGC officials say that January figures indicate demand for construction is rebounding, but warn that failure to replenish the Highway Trust Fund could curtail highway, bridge and transit construction this summer, undermining recovery at the height of the construction season.

"Especially considering the fact many parts of the country experienced very harsh weather in January, these construction jobs figures are particularly robust,” says AGC Chief Economist  Ken Simonson, “Yet some of these gains will be at risk if federal transportation funding comes to halt this summer as predicted.”


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