Construction Employment Declined in SC Year-to-Year

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Construction employment declined in South Carolina and North Carolina from October 2011 to October 2012 even as both states added jobs during the past month, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials noted that residential construction gains were being undermined by the broader business uncertainty being caused by the threat of the looming fiscal cliff.

“The industry remains stuck in neutral, with close balance each month between the number of states that add or lose construction jobs,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Despite a strong pickup in homebuilding and multifamily construction, uncertainty about the fiscal cliff appears to be holding back private investment, while public agencies keep trimming construction budgets.”

South Carolina was among states losing construction jobs during the past year. South Carolina lost 300 construction jobs (-0.4 percent) between October 2011 and October 2012. The Tarheel state lost 5,900 (-3.3 percent)in the same period.

Construction employment gains for the month of October occurred in North Carolina (1,800 jobs, 1.1 percent) and South Carolina (300 jobs, 0.4 percent). Simonson noted that the October data was collected before Hurricane Sandy hit the Mid-Atlantic States, so it does not reflect changes in employment caused by the storm.

Association officials continued to urge Congress and the administration to reach an agreement to avoid significant tax hikes and extreme spending cuts that could undermine the nascent economic recovery. They cautioned that an economic slowdown would force many already cash-strapped construction firms to make additional cuts to their workforce.

“If Washington officials can’t find a solution to the fiscal cliff, we run the risk of putting the economy into another downward spiral,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “After years of difficult economic conditions, many firms will be forced to downsize if the economy begins to shrink.”  Read More.

The jobless rate in South Carolina stayed at 9.6 % in August, according to the Department of Employment and Workforce; the fifth straight month the employment rolls decreased. The unemployment rate, nationally, decreased from 8.3 % in July to 8.1% in August. By sector, the state agency reported that nonfarm payroll jobs rose by 2,400 between July and August. A majority of new jobs (2,100) were in government as schools hired for the new school year. Private school and health care service jobs increased by 1,400; 1,100 more jobs were recorded in the financial services sector; 800 more in construction and 300 in the trade, transportation and utilities sectors.