As the country enters its fourth year of recession, there have been maddeningly few signs of sustained recovery, especially in employment numbers (and the 29 million Americans who are without a job can attest to that). While the construction industry — often considered an early harbinger of employment trends, and certainly so within the field service industry — showed some signs of life earlier in the year, numbers released by the Associated General Contractors of America this week show the country split down the middle, with construction hiring rising in 25 states, and falling in the other 25.
The data suggest that construction on apartments and private businesses has picked up, while public-sector jobs have stalled as municipal governments continue to delay infrastructure projects in order to deal with chronic budget deficits. (Click here to see the AGC’s data sorted by state ranking, or here to view alphabetically by state.)
So, is that glass half-full, or half-empty? It’s still hard to say. While there was a net gain of 7,300 construction jobs nationwide, that’s a relative pittance.
As with the larger economy, it’s nearly impossible to get a good read on the overall fiscal health of the construction industry. Any good news is always tempered with bad news – there’s no good signs of either a recovery or worsening situation. Obviously, this needs to turn around, but this latest data isn’t too reassuring.