Construction Adds 25,000 Jobs in May

According to data released Friday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national construction industry added 25,000 net new jobs in May. This follows a 21,000 net new job gain in April.

Press Release from Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc (ABC)

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WASHINGTON, June 1—The U.S. construction industry added 25,000 net new jobs in May, according to Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This follows a 21,000 net job gain in April (revised upward from 17,000). The industry has gained 286,000 jobs on a year-over-year basis, the largest such increase since April 2016.

Nonresidential construction employment increased by 15,400 net jobs for the month. Nearly all of that growth came from the nonresidential specialty trade contractor subsector, which added 14,800 net jobs in May. However, the nonresidential building subsector lost 4,400 net jobs in May.

The construction industry unemployment rate plummeted 2.1 percentage points in May and now stands at 4.4 percent, the lowest level since July 2000. The national unemployment rate inched down to 3.8 percent, its lowest level since April 2000.

“Every employment report is important. Each time the BLS announces new data regarding employment and unemployment, global stock and bond markets move,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “In recent months, we have been watching for indications of either economic slowing in the form of weaker job creation or overheating or in the form of increasingly rapid worker earnings growth. Today’s jobs report however, is being considered largely in the context of an emerging threat to the economic expansion—a trade war with China.

“Despite all the noise regarding tariffs, trade wars, Italy, Spain and a myriad of other issues, the U.S. economy continues to move forward with conviction,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Today’s employment report is rendered all the more impressive given the difficulty so many firms, including construction firms, report filling available jobs. The ongoing addition of jobs in nonresidential construction is both an expression of confidence as well as evidence of an industry that continues to benefit from economic growth.

“There are obviously reasons for concern,” said Basu. “Inflationary pressures continue to build, and the Federal Reserve stands ready to further tighten monetary policy. Recent decisions regarding tariffs on steel and aluminum are likely to further exacerbate these pressures.

“Construction firms should monitor their backlog with great care and be searching for any evidence of economic slowing. To date, however, there is little evidence of lost U.S. economic momentum,” said Basu.

Press Release from Associated General Contractors of America (AGC)

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Measures to Reform Taxes, Reduce Regulatory Burdens and Increase Infrastructure Funding are Helping Construction Employers and Workers as Demand and Pay Continue to Expand, Association Officials Note.

Construction employment increased by 25,000 jobs in May and by 286,000 jobs over the past year while construction spending reached $1.310 trillion in April, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the employment and spending increases have come as federal officials have reformed taxes, reduced regulatory burdens and boosted infrastructure spending..

“Construction workers and their employers are clearly benefiting from steps Congress and the administration are taking to boost economic demand,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Construction pay, employment and demand have all increased as business conditions have improved.”.

Construction employment totaled 7,210,000 in May, a gain of 25,000 for the month and 286,000, or 4.1 percent, over 12 months. Association officials pointed out that the­­ year-over-year growth rate in industry jobs was significantly higher than the 1.6 percent rise in total nonfarm payroll employment and that construction employment is now higher than at any point since June 2008..

Hourly earnings in the industry averaged $29.65 in May, an increase of 3.2 percent from a year earlier. That put the average hourly earnings in construction 10.1 percent higher than the average for all nonfarm private-sector jobs, which rose 2.7 percent in the past year, to $26.92, Sandherr added..

Construction unemployment hit one of the lowest levels on record, association officials added. They noted that the unemployment rate in construction decreased from 5.3 percent a year ago to 4.4 percent last month, the lowest rate of unemployment since July 2000. The number of unemployed job seekers with recent construction experience has plummeted 87,000 since May 2017..

Residential construction – comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors – grew by 10,300 jobs in May and added 132,300 jobs over the past 12 months, a 4.9 percent increase. Nonresidential construction – including building, specialty trades and heavy & civil engineering construction – employment grew by 15,400 jobs in May and increased by 153,900 during the past year, 3.6 percent increase..

Construction spending in April increased 1.8 percent to $1.310 trillion from March. The April total exceeded the year-earlier level by 7.6 percent. For the month, private nonresidential construction spending rose 0.8 percent, private residential spending increased 4.5 percent, and public construction spending shrank 1.3 percent. On a year-over-year basis, private residential construction spending soared 9.5 percent, private nonresidential spending grew 5.3 percent, and public construction spending jumped 7.7 percent..

Association officials noted that construction employers have added 337,000 new jobs since January of 2017, thanks in part to improving business conditions and growing demand. “It is no coincidence that pay, employment and demand are on the increase while taxes, regulations and infrastructure neglect are on the decrease.” Sandherr said.