Construction Employment at Six-Year High

May 2015

Construction employers added 29,000 jobs in February and 321,000 during the past year, reaching the highest construction employment total in six years as the sector’s unemployment rate fell to an eight-year low of 10.6 percent, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials pointed out, however, that construction jobs in the highway and transit sector were at risk because of political gridlock in Washington, D.C.

“Despite challenging weather conditions in much of the country, both the number of workers and their average weekly hours rose last month to the highest levels since the recession,” said Ken Simonson’s AGC’s chief economist. “There are lots of good-paying full-time jobs available in construction, with more work on the way.”

Construction employment totaled 6,353,000 in February, the highest mark since February 2009, with a 12-month gain of 321,000 jobs or 5.3 percent, Simonson said. Average weekly hours of all employees climbed to 39.6 hours and weekly earnings averaged $1,066 in construction. Weekly earnings were 24 percent higher than the private-sector average.

Residential building and specialty trade contractors added a combined 16,700 employees since January and 167,800 during the past 12 months, a 7.4-percent boost. Nonresidential contractors – building, specialty trade, and heavy and civil engineering construction firms – hired a net of 12,000 workers for the month and 153,400 since February 2014.

“Contractors in most states appear optimistic about the prospects for construction, especially for apartments and private nonresidential projects,” Simonson added. “In contrast, the highway funding outlook is murky.”

Association officials said that employment in highway and transit construction was at risk in Congress and the Obama administration fail to find a way to pay for, and enact, a long-term federal highway and transit bill.

“Construction Employment at Six-Year High” Penton, 16 Mar. 2015. Web. 11 May 2015.