Job Growth Strongest Across States in the West and the South


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 40 states and the District of Columbia, and decreased in 10 states in March 2018 compared to February 2018. Year-over-year, 48 states and the District of Columbia increased in employment while two states, Alaska and North Dakota lost payroll employment during this time. However, the gains across most states between February and March ranged between 0.4%-0.1%. As a result, payroll employment nationwide slowed to a net gain of 103,000 in March.


Year-over-year, ending in March, 17 states recorded annualized growth above 1.5% in employment, which was the national growth rate. Utah posted the highest growth at 3.3% where they added 48,000 workers during this time. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia recorded annualized growth between 1.4%-0.2% while Alaska and North Dakota recorded decline in employment.

A majority of states which recorded growth were in the western and the southern region of the country. Out of the top 10, eight of these states are located in the West and two are in the South (Texas and Florida). Among the 17 states which recorded growth above the national level, only two, South Dakota and New Jersey are not located in these two regions.

The relative stronger employment gains across much of the West and the South tracks relative growth rates in population by region. According to Brookings Institution this region has the nation’s fastest growing population states of Idaho and Nevada, which grew at rates of 2.2% and 2.0% between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017. Texas, Florida, California, Washington, and North Carolina rounded out the top five states which posted the largest numeric increase in population, adding up to a total of 1,209,261 people over these five states. This is 52.3% of the total 2.3 million added in 2017. Relatively stronger growth in employment and population growth across the West and the South may be contributing to faster single-family construction growth over the past year and faster home sales in these regions of the country.

In the construction sector specifically, which includes both residential and non-residential construction, out of the 44 states which reported construction sector jobs data, 26 states had an increase in March, 16 states reported a decline, and two remained unchanged compared to February. However, the increase at the state level was not significant enough to have an impact nationwide. The construction sector posted a net loss of 15,000 jobs, which is 0.2 percentage points lower than in February.

Between February and March 2018, Alaska had the largest increase in job growth with 2.6% followed by Wisconsin (1.9%) and Iowa (1.8%). The largest decline was in Rhode Island where total employment in construction fell by 2.6%. During this time, West Virginia declined by 1.7% and New York declined by 1.3%.

Year-over-year, the U.S added 228,000 construction sector jobs which is a 3.3% increase in net gains. West Virginia had the highest annual growth in construction sector by 11.2%. Nevada (9.0%), and Idaho (8.6%) round out the top three. Over this period, North Dakota reported the largest decline at 14.8%, followed by Iowa (5.0%) and Kansas (4.1%).

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