Construction employment continues to be a cause for concern in the industry as contractors struggle to find qualified workers, reads an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. The organization released data on Aug. 19, 2022, that showed construction employment in July trail pre-pandemic levels in 15 states.

The analysis prompted association officials to call on government officials to allow employers to sponsor more foreign-born workers and support more technical education.

“Although demand for projects is strong, there are too many states where contractors can’t find enough workers,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “The high level of openings and low unemployment rate among experienced construction workers shows the industry needs more workers.”

According to the Associated General Contractors of America, New York experienced the largest job loss since February 2020, while Florida and Utah topped the list of states with gains.

The updates show that construction employment in July fell behind the total in February 2020, which was a month before the coronavirus pandemic caused huge job losses, in 15 states and the District of Columbia.

The biggest gap was in New York (-38,800 jobs, -9.5%), followed by Pennsylvania (-10,000 jobs, -3.7%), New Jersey (-8,800 jobs, -5.4%), Louisiana (-6,600 jobs, -4.8%) and Maryland (-5.8%, -2,200 jobs). New York had the largest percentage shortfall, followed by Hawaii (-6.6%, -2,500 jobs), New Jersey and Louisiana.

July employment topped the February 2020 level in 33 states and matched it in Michigan and Ohio. Florida added the most jobs (18,200 jobs, 3.2%), followed by Utah (15,800 jobs, 13.9%) and Tennessee (15,500 jobs, 11.7%). The top percentage gains were in Utah, South Dakota (12.9%, 3,100 jobs), Idaho (12.9%, 7,100 jobs) and Tennessee.

In July, 32 states added construction jobs, 16 states and the District of Columbia lost jobs and there was no change in Idaho and Rhode Island. California added the most construction jobs over the month (11,400 jobs, 1.3%), followed by Florida (7,700 jobs, 1.3%), Alabama (3,100 jobs, 3.1%) and Texas (3,100 jobs, 0.4%). North Dakota had the largest percentage gain (3.7%, 1,000 jobs), followed by Alabama, Wyoming (2.7%, 600 jobs) and Connecticut (2.5%, 1,500 jobs).

New York lost the most construction jobs in July (-2,000 jobs, -0.5%), followed by Louisiana (-1,500 jobs, -1.1%) and Illinois (-1,400 jobs, -0.6%). The largest percentage loss was in D.C. (-3.2%, -500 jobs), followed by Louisiana and West Virginia (-0.9%, -300 jobs).