LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – As with most of the country, construction employment in Kentucky declined from April through May as increased costs and supply chain constraints slowed the recovery.

Construction employment in 40 states and the District of Columbia remained below April levels in May, according to a study from the Associated General Contractors of America from government employment data.

Association officials said skyrocketing material prices and excessive delays in obtaining essential building materials would slow the industry’s recovery.

“Today’s figures show that the impact of the pandemic on project demand, as well as material costs and the supply chain, is weighing on construction in most parts of the country,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In the few states where industrial employment exceeded pre-February 2020 levels, most of the increases are likely due more to demand for housing and remodeling than most categories of non-residential and infrastructure projects.”

From April through May, construction employment declined in 40 states and DC, rose in only eight states, and remained stable in Maryland and Utah.

According to the report, Kentucky lost 900 jobs – 80,200 to 79,300 – from April to May – and employment fell by 2,000 from February 2020 to May 2021.

The biggest drop during the month was New York, which lost 5,900 construction jobs, or 1.6 percent, followed by Illinois (-5,600 jobs, -2.5 percent) and Pennsylvania (-3,300 jobs, -1.3 percent). The largest percentage declines since April were in Vermont (-3.9 percent, -600 jobs), followed by Maine (-3.5 percent, -1,100 jobs) and Delaware (-3.0 percent, -300 jobs).

Florida created the most construction jobs between April and May (3,700 jobs, 0.6 percent), followed by Michigan (1,600 jobs, 0.9 percent) and Minnesota (1,200 jobs, 0.9 percent). Oklahoma had the highest percentage growth for the month (1.3 percent, 1,000 jobs), followed by Minnesota and Michigan.

Employment declined in 42 states from the peak pre-pandemic month in February 2020, and DC Texas lost the most construction jobs (-49,100 jobs, or -6.3 percent) over the period, followed by New York (-45,200 jobs, -11, 1 percent) and California (-30,800 jobs, -3.4%). Wyoming posted the largest percentage losses (-15.3 percent, -3,500 jobs), followed by Louisiana (-15.1 percent, -20,700 jobs) and New York.

Of the eight states that have created jobs in construction since February 2020, the largest increase was in Utah (5,000 jobs, 4.4 percent), followed by Idaho (3,400 jobs, 6.2 percent) and South Dakota ( 1,200 positions, 5.0 percent). Idaho saw the largest percentage increase, followed by South Dakota and Utah.

Association officials noted that cost increases and extended lead times for the manufacture of many building materials are exacerbating a slow recovery in the construction sector. They urged the Biden government to accelerate its timetable for reaching an agreement with allies to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum and to initiate talks on ending tariffs on Canadian timber.

“Federal officials can help recruit more construction workers by removing tariffs on key building materials such as wood, steel and aluminum,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chairman of the association. “These tariffs unnecessarily harm construction workers and companies, as do the administration’s goals of building affordable housing and infrastructure.”