Nationwide, 25 states gained construction jobs and the other half lost jobs. Wisconsin was second worst in job losses as a percentage of total jobs, with a decrease of 11.1 percent. It was third in total number of jobs lost, after Florida and New York.
"The latest state data show again how fragile and fragmentary the construction recovery is," said Ken Simonson, ACG's chief economist. "Although private sector demand for structures has risen in most states, improvement in single-family homebuilding is spotty and public investment is shrinking."
Wisconsin has lost about 45,000 construction jobs since 2008, said Lyle Balistreri, president of the AFL-CIO Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council.
Plumbers, carpenters and masons have been hit hardest, since they depend on residential construction work, he said.
"Those jobs are going to be coming back but I don't know that the people that had them are going to be coming back," Balistreri said.
The political turmoil surrounding this year's gubernatorial recall election could have discouraged some businesses from expanding, he said.
In addition, it's been hard to obtain funding for new construction projects in Wisconsin.
"I think a lot of the issue is coming down to access to capital," said Rick Barrett, owner of Barrett Visionary Development in Milwaukee. "Obviously we're coming out of a very difficult time because the capital markets have been so frozen."
Barrett is wrapping up construction on a 30-story residential tower, The Moderne, and recently announced plans to build a 44-story apartment and hotel development, The Couture, both in downtown Milwaukee.
The Couture project would create 4,400 construction jobs.
"It's what keeps me up at night, thinking, 'How can I do my job better to get some jobs to the street,'" Barrett said. "(The Moderne workers are) very anxious to continue building and continue building their families."
The construction industry is usually the first to feel the effects of a recession and the last to recover, but Balistreri hasn't experienced a downturn like this in his career of more than 40 years.
"I've never seen anything like it. This is the worst construction recession since the Great Depression," he said.