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Construction Jobs: Nevada Sees Gains While Arizona Dips And New Mexico Staggers

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In April, available construction jobs edged up in Nevada, while construction jobs were off by 2,200 in Arizona and 1,100 in New Mexico. Nevertheless, there seems to be general optimism among construction professionals about the job market among the southwestern states.

In April, Nevada’s construction jobs edged up to 62,600, reflecting a 9.4% increase year-over-year on the month. The state’s overall unemployment rate was down to 8% in April, and its civilian labor force was down to 1,376,000 in April. In March, the labor force was up from about 1,373,400 in February to 1,380,800, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were about 61,000 construction jobs in March in Nevada, slightly off from 61,900 in February, though reflecting a 7.6 percent increase year-over-year on the month. Nevada's overall unemployment rate from all sectors remained the same in February and March at 8.5 percent.

According to a report by the Nevada Subcontractors Association, construction employment in Clark County, Nevada, increased by 300 during March and is 1,300 above the level in March of 2013. Specialty Trade Contractors in Clark County added 100 net jobs in March, though employment in the sub-sector was down 800 from March 2013. Construction employment in Washoe and Storey Counties dropped 1,100 during the month, though the industry employs 900 more than it did a year earlier.

Nevada's Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation predicts the state to continue to be one of the nation's leaders in employment growth through 2015.

Total employment in Nevada’s economy is projected to grow by about 61,000 jobs through 2015 to reach an average of 1,218,700; this represents a 5.3 percent increase, according to Bill Anderson, chief economist for Nevada Department of Employment, Training And Rehabilitation. Specifically, growth rates of 2.5 percent for 2014 and 2.7 percent for 2015 are expected. Some of the fastest projected growth will occur in accommodation and food services, construction, and retail trade. Together these three industries are expected to account for over 55 percent — nearly 34,000 — of all new jobs during this period, he said.

In April, the Arizona’s construction jobs numbered about 123,100, off by 2,200 and representing a 0.5 year-over-year increase on the month. Arizona’s overall unemployment rate from all sectors was down in April from 7.3 to 6.9%, and its civilian labor force edged up to 3,034,600. In March, its civilian labor force jumped to about 3,029,400 from about 3,006,200 in February.

“Most of those jobs were in the subcontracting area, and we are still not where we want to be or where we would like to be, but hopefully some major projects will come through,” says David Jones, chief executive of AZ Construction Association. “For example, we have the West Side Resort and Casino that will be constructed by the Tohono O'odham Nation, that has a potential of putting 6,000 construction-related jobs on the market, then 3,400 permanent jobs.

The state’s construction jobs numbered about 125,300 in March, slightly off from 125,900 in February, reflecting a 2.5 year-over-year increase on the month. Its overall unemployment rate from all sectors remained flat in February and March at 7.3 percent.

“We have Rosemont Copper in the southern part of the state that anticipates spending about $2 billion in the next 10 years just on construction,” Jones says. “Those entities have been fighting for more than five years to get in a position to break ground, we think we are getting closer to that, but the reality is that we still need large jobs like that to come through and put people to work. The industry around here has lost over 208,000 jobs and there have been hundreds if not thousands of small to medium sized companies that have had to close their doors. We're hoping that by the third quarter of this year, we can see a market increase and a job improvement in construction in Arizona.”

New Mexico’s construction jobs were down in April, at 39,800, reflecting a 4.8% decrease year-over-year on the month. New Mexico’s overall unemployment rate edged off in April to 6.8%, and the civilian labor force decreased by 3,100 to 935,100.

There were about 40,900 construction jobs in March, off from 42,700 jobs in February, reflecting a 2.4 percent decrease year-over-year on the month for the state. Its overall unemployment rate from all sectors was 7 percent in March, up from 6.7 percent in February, and its civilian labor force jumped from 932,700 in February to about 938,200 in March, according to the BLS.

According to the April 25 New Mexico Labor Review, future projects may go far in reversing the construction job losses including the Zuni and Jemez Pueblos moving towards opening casinos in the future, and $6 million for flood control projects in Otero County.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have also announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will fund eight water projects in New Mexico, for a total of $28 million in funding. Of that, $6 million will be appropriated to paving portions of the McKinley Channel.

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