With continuing construction worker shortages across the country, New Mexico emerged as the No. 2 state for construction job growth by percentage for its 3.3 percent increase from February to March, the Associated General Contractors of America reported in its monthly state construction employment rankings.
New Mexico added 1,700 construction jobs from February to March to reach 52,700 construction jobs, the highest numbers since just before the coronavirus pandemic started in March 2020, AGS statistics show.
AGC also ranks the states for construction job growth over the 25 months since the pandemic started. New Mexico ranks in the middle of the pack at No. 25.
In December and January, Santa Fe ranked No. 3 and No. 24 in a separate AGC construction job ranking of 358 metro areas compared to December and January of the previous year. In March, Santa Fe ranked No. 38, still near the top 10 percent of metros, and Albuquerque ranked No. 12. Santa Fe added 300 jobs over the prior March and Albuquerque 3,500 new jobs.
“I just feel the market is kind of crazy right now,” said Valerie Montoya, executive officer at the family-owned Boss Builders in Santa Fe and president of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association board of directors. “People want to move here. People are moving here.”
Home sales and home prices have grown robustly since 2019 not only in Santa Fe but across New Mexico in places like Angel Fire, Silver City, Alamogordo and Ruidoso, The New Mexican reported a few months ago.
“Contractors have been adding workers as fast as they can find them,” said Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America’s chief economist. “But there just aren’t enough qualified workers available in many states, as shown by the record number of construction job openings.”
Boss Builders has increased jobs by 10 percent to 15 percent for its concrete and framing operations, Montoya said.
“It’s difficult,” she said. “You just can’t find people to do labor jobs. I would credit it to our team. They bring people in. Our concrete guys have been with us since 2007.”
The Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association last week offered a free, two-day introduction to construction site job safety class to 20 students at Capital High School that earned each an OSHA 10 card from the U.S. Department of Labor, said Miles D. Conway, the association’s executive director.
“If an employer knows this person has basic safety training, it makes the person so much more hireable,” said Conway, adding that the pandemic has inspired some people to not return to the service sector. “We are peeling away people from other career paths.”
Conway confirms construction is robust on the commercial and residential sides.
“The national laboratory is going hard,” he said. “They are doing a lot of construction up there. And the pandemic has created an incredible migration into New Mexico.”