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Always the optimist: Construction employers think they will add jobs in ’12

Last year didn’t contain the economic recovery many construction officials hoped for, and it showed in the numbers.

According to state construction employment figures released by the Associated General Contractors of America on Tuesday, Wisconsin lost nearly 4,000 industry jobs from December 2010 to December 2011.

While December’s job figures in Wisconsin saw more than a 2 percent uptick in employment from November (83,900 jobs to 85,800), the numbers were still down compared to those in December 2010’s total of 89,600, according to the report.

Tuesday’s job numbers come a day after AGC released a study stating 57 percent of Wisconsin construction firms responding to a questionnaire plan to hire more employees in 2012. But Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC, told me he doesn’t expect this to be the beginning of a resurgence for the state.

“Wisconsin contractors probably feel they hit bottom and will be able to pick up the hiring pace in 2012, even though I don’t think the state will be a shining star,” he said. “You don’t have any real strong drivers for construction activity; certainly not public construction. And you’re not getting an influx of population for any exceptional home building.”

The 4.2 percent job loss in 12 months ranks Wisconsin 46th in the nation. New Mexico ranked last with a 13.1 percent job loss over 12 months (43,900 jobs in 2010 to 37,900 in 2011), while North Dakota ranked first with a 24.4 percent increase from 20,900 to 26,000.

As for other states in the Midwest, Michigan saw its job totals increase slightly from 124,500 to 125,500 year over year; Illinois increased from 191,500 to 194,900; and Minnesota increased slightly from 82,900 to 83,200.

In all, construction employment increased year-over-year in 28 states, according to the report, the largest number since November 2007.


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