Apart from West Virginia, the highest construction job growth in the nation in January happened in the western states, according to the Associated General Contractors of America monthly report.
West Virginia locked in the top spot, with the rest of the top ten going to Idaho at No. 5, and to California, Nevada and New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Utah, Oregon and Colorado.
Idaho saw an 8.7 percent increase in construction jobs in January over the prior year to reach 47,400.
“While most western states have seen growth, Idaho stands apart from its’ neighbors due to our strong economic fundamentals,” said Wayne Hammon, executive director of the Idaho AGC, the local affiliate of the Associated General Contractors of America. “We are a pro-growth, pro-business state with a balanced state budget and limited government interference. Where others have raised taxes and embraced expensive regulatory schemes, Idaho remains ‘open for business.’”
AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson noted that the states with the top construction job growth are mostly the five states with the fastest-growing states in population, in order: Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Arizona.
“One of the long-term determinants of demand for many types of residential, commercial and state and local public construction is population growth,” Simonson said. “I had noticed the uniformly high rankings of western states in the January report. That might be attributable in part to favorable weather conditions (for construction) in January 2018 compared to December or January 2017.”
Even with construction job growth rates in the 9 percent to 14 percent range, AGC officials noted a shortage of qualified construction workers nationwide is holding back job growth.
“I can tell you, from our standpoint, we’re at roughly 420 employees. We could probably add 30 or 40 people tomorrow, if they are available,” said Ryan Russell, area manager at Idaho Materials and Construction in Nampa.
As with the state overall, Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston rank in the top 55 among the nation’s 358 metropolitan areas, as calculated by AGC. Lewiston, which was No. 1 in the nation a couple times in 2017, was listed at No. 12 in January with an 18 percent increase or 200 addition construction jobs over January 2017.
Coeur d’Alene came in at No. 27 at 14 percent and 600 more construction jobs with Boise, also a former No. 1 in 2016, at No. 55 at 9 percent job growth and 1,700 more jobs year-over-year. Idaho Falls ranked No. 190 at 3 percent growth and Pocatello was flat at No. 249.
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 10:03 a.m March 16 with metropolitan area statistics and comments from Wayne Hammon.