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N.M. construction jobs reflect ‘fragile’ nature of recovery

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Construction employment in New Mexico reflected the national trend during July by increasing from a year earlier but posting a loss from a month earlier, according to an analysis of federal labor data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

HOUSING CONSTRUCTION 08-22-13The state gained 1,200 construction jobs during the 12 months that ended with July, pushing the sector’s total employment to 41,500. On the downside, July’s total construction employment was down 1,000 from June and 1,900 from May of this year.

“Today’s report shows the fragile and fragmentary nature of the industry’s recovery,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, in a prepared statement.

“Construction employment increased in 37 states during the past 12 months — the largest number with gains since early last year — but only two states have surpassed their pre-recession peaks, and barely a third of states added construction jobs between June and July,” he said.

At 3 percent year-over-year job growth, New Mexico ranked 22nd among states for the pace of construction employment gains. Wyoming had the highest pace of construction job gains at 16.7 percent, while Indiana posted a year-over-year loss of 6.7 percent to rank at the bottom.

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As of July, New Mexico’s 41,500 construction jobs are still 18,100 jobs, or 30 percent, below the peak employment level of 59,600 set in June 2006, according to the Associated General Contractors. For comparison, construction employment is 26 percent below its peak in Colorado and 49 percent below its peak in Arizona.

North Dakota, which is experiencing growth from an energy boom, and Louisiana are the only states to see construction employment return to pre-recession levels.

Should demand for new construction expand, association officials say many contractors are expecting to face a shortage of skilled workers.

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