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Construction Adds Most Jobs Since 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

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The U.S. construction industry has reason to celebrate after an October jobs report showed a robust increase in its workforce last month.

The Associated General Contractors of America announced Friday (Nov. 6) that construction firms added 31,000 workers in October, and the industry’s employment rate dropped to 6.2 percent, citing recent Department of Labor data.

It’s the first time since February 2009 that construction employment has been that high as the industry continues to recover from a downturn, the AGC said.

©iStock.com / Justin Horrocks

Residential construction added 6,000 workers in October and the industry saw unemployment drop to the lowest number since 2006, according to the AGC.

“The industry continues to recover while the hiring slowdowns it experienced during the summer were prompted more by labor shortages than they were any slump in demand,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.

“Construction firms appear to have had an easier time finding workers in October than they did during the summer.”

Jobless Rate Low, Pay Rate High

According to the AGC, 6.43 million people worked in construction in October. The total number of workers is 233,000 higher—a 3.8 percent increase—than during the same period a year ago.

Residential construction increased by 6,000 workers over the previous month and 99,100 workers compared to October 2014. Nonresidential construction added 24,900 workers for the month and increased by 4.5 percent—133,800—compared to last year.

Unemployed jobseekers who last worked in construction totaled 534,999 in September, according to the AGC’s report. That number is the lowest it’s been since 2006. The 6.2 percent unemployment rate also is the lowest October number since 2007, the agency said.

According to Census Bureau data also released last week, construction spending reached a seven-year high of 14.1 percent from September 2014 to September of this year, the AGC said.

The people who make their living in construction also are being paid more. Construction employees who worked in October made an average of $27.54 per hour—9.3 percent higher than the average for all nonfarm payroll employees, the association said. That’s also a 2.4 percent improvement compared to October 2014, and a 0.7 percent improvement over the past four years.

Jobs Report

The Department of Labor announced a strong report about the nation’s unemployment overall. According to the USA Today, the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 5 percent in October. That’s the lowest it’s been since April 2008, the newspaper said.

©iStock.com / lisafx

Despite more job availability, the AGC said the construction industry still has a shortage of qualified workers and fewer young people are entering the field.

But strong unemployment could come at a price.

Federal Reserve System Chairwoman Janet Yellen told Congress last week that the central bank likely will raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade, the national newspaper reported.

Worker Shortage Remains

The AGC also noted that not everything in the construction industry employment snapshot was rosy. Despite the job increases, the industry still is short on qualified workers. In addition to that, fewer young people are entering the construction workforce.

“While firms were able to find a larger number of workers this month than during the summer, the supply of qualified workers remains tight,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO, in its statement. “It is time to start exposing more students to the fact they can make a very good wage and enjoy rewarding careers in construction.”

To achieve that, AGC has developed a Workforce Development Plan that is designed to expose more high school and college-age students to career opportunities in construction, the association said.

   

Tagged categories: Construction; Jobs; Worker training; Workers

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