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State construction jobs continue to fall

Staff Report //May 21, 2018//

State construction jobs continue to fall

Staff Report //May 21, 2018//

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South Carolina continues to fall behind much of the country in construction jobs, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Labor Department reported 38 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between April 2017 and April 2018, while 29 states added construction jobs between March and April of 2018.

South Carolina, however, saw a 1.4% decrease in construction jobs compared to last year, a loss of 1,400 jobs. From March to April, South Carolina lost 1,300 construction jobs, a decline of 1.3%.

An earlier report showed an 11% decrease from March 2017 to March 2018.

The declining numbers have drawn the attention of public officials. At a Columbia City Council work session last week, Councilman Daniel Rickenmann said he was concerned about the drop in construction jobs and urged the council to find ways to make Columbia a better place to do business.

“We need to find what we can do to make ourselves more attractive,” said Rickenmann, who proposed a council roundtable discussion to re-evaluate where economic development dollars are going.

The May AGC analysis found that nationwide, construction jobs increased by 17,000 in April and by 257,000 during the past year. The report credited pay increases that are attracting former construction workers back into the job market, but cautioned labor conditions remain tight.

Hourly industry wages averaged $29.63 in April, a 3.5% increase from the previous year.

“Many firms are boosting pay and taking other steps to compete for a relatively small pool of available, qualified workers to hire,” Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC CEO, said in a news release. “While these steps appear to be luring more construction workers back to the job market, firms report they would hire even more workers if they could find enough qualified candidates.”