Construction Job Growth Steady in June

According to data released Friday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national construction industry added 21,000 net new jobs in June.

Key Takeaways

  • The construction industry added 21,000 net new jobs in June and, on a year-over-year basis, has expanded by 224,000 jobs, an increase of 3.1%.
  • All major segments of nonresidential construction added jobs in June, with the bulk of job growth in the nonresidential specialty trade contractor segment, which added 11,900 net new positions.
  • The construction unemployment rate stood at 4% in June, down 0.7% from the same time last year.
  • “Today’s employment numbers indicate the economy is not slowing nearly as quickly as data suggested earlier this year, which is promising news for contractors.”


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

Construction Job Growth Steady in June, Says ABC

WASHINGTON, July 5 – The construction industry added 21,000 net new jobs in June, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the industry has expanded by 224,000 jobs, representing an increase of 3.1%. Nonresidential construction employment gained 14,900 net jobs in June and is up 146,700 jobs during the last 12 months.

All major segments of nonresidential construction added jobs in June, with the bulk of job growth in the nonresidential specialty trade contractor segment, which added 11,900 net new positions. The construction unemployment rate stood at 4% in June, down 0.7% from the same time last year, and unemployment across all industries was 3.7%, slightly higher than 3.6% in May.

“Today’s employment numbers indicate the economy is not slowing nearly as quickly as data suggested earlier this year, which is promising news for contractors,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “With the U.S. economy now in the midst of its lengthiest expansion in history and many economists predicting a recession in 2020 or 2021, construction firm leaders are searching for any indication that the current economic and construction spending growth cycles are nearing the end. That said, today’s employment numbers suggest the economy will retain plenty of momentum into 2020.

“In general, nonresidential construction spending tends to lag the broader economy by 12 to 18 months,” said Basu. “And as the broader economy continued to perform well during the first half of the year, even though economic growth slowed during the second quarter, this implies nonresidential construction spending growth will remain in place well into 2020 and likely beyond.

“In short, the industry is still strong,“ said Basu. “Finding and retaining skilled workers remains a primary issue, implying that compensation growth will continue to increase. This is a challenge that construction firms share with firms operating in many other industries, which means that the cycle of wage growth coupled with robust consumer spending remains firmly in place.”


Press Release from Associated General Contractors of America (AGC)


Construction Jobs Increase by 21,000 in June and 224,000 During the Past Year as the Sector's Unemployment Rate Decreased to 4.0%.

Average Hourly Earnings in Construction Top Private Sector Average by 10.1 Percent as Construction Employers Cope with Tight Labor Market; Association Officials Call for New Career Training Funding

Construction employment increased by 21,000 jobs in June and by 224,000, or 3.2 percent, over the past 12 months, while the number of unemployed jobseekers with construction experience fell, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that firms continue to increase pay as they work to attract new hires from an ever-tighter labor market.

“Construction firms continue to go to great lengths to recruit and retain workers during one of the tightest labor markets many of them have ever experienced,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Making matters worse, relatively few school districts offer the kind of career and technical education programs that signal to students that they should explore careers in high-paying fields like construction.”

Sandherr noted that the unemployment rate for jobseekers who last worked in construction declined to 4.0 percent from 4.7 percent in June 2018, and the number of such workers decreased in the last year from 466,000 to 390,000. Another government series showed that the number of job openings in construction, last reported for May, totaled 360,000, the highest May total in the 19-year history of that series.

He added that most of the construction job growth during the past month and year came from the non-residential construction sector. Non-residential contractors added 14,900 jobs in June and 146,700 jobs during the past year. Meanwhile, residential contractors added 6,000 jobs this past month and 78,000 jobs between June 2018 and June 2019.

In addition, average hourly earnings in construction—a measure of all wages and salaries—increased 3.2 percent over the year to $30.73. That figure was 10.1 percent higher than the private-sector average of $27.90, the association official noted.

Association officials said that industry employment gains were coming despite an extremely tight supply of available, qualified, workers to hire. They noted that in addition to raising pay and other benefits, many firms note they have increased their investments in training as they recruit workers with little to no prior experience in construction. Federal officials could help attract more people into high-paying construction careers by boosting funding for career and technical programs in schools and enacting immigration reform that allows more people with construction skills to legally enter the country.

“The nation’s education system continues to produce too many over-qualified baristas and not enough qualified bricklayers and other craft construction professionals” said Sandherr. “As a result of these educational imbalances, too many young adults are struggling to pay off college debts while too many construction firms are struggling to fill job positions that pay well and don’t require costly degrees.”

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