According to data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national construction industry added 44,000 on net in October.
Press Release from Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc (ABC)
WASHINGTON, Nov. 5—The construction industry added 44,000 jobs on net in October, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, the industry has recovered 963,000, or 86.5%, of the jobs lost during earlier stages of the pandemic.
Nonresidential construction employment increased by 33,000 positions on net, with all three subcategories showing gains for the month. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors and heavy and civil engineering added 19,300 and 12,100 jobs, respectively, while nonresidential building employment rose by 1,600 positions.
The construction unemployment rate decreased to 4.0% in October. Unemployment across all industries fell from 4.8% in September to 4.6% last month.
“After two months of disappointment, the U.S. employment market bounced back, adding 33,000 nonresidential construction jobs in October in the process,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Many economists believed that seasonal adjustments artificially suppressed statistical employment growth in September. That appears to have been correct. Nonetheless, employers continue to report difficulty filling available positions and job growth has slowed significantly since the initial periods of the economic recovery.
“The expectation is that labor force participation will continue to pick up going forward, albeit gradually,” said Basu. “Over time, economic activity will trend toward normalcy: steadily dissipating inflation, fewer input shortages, slower wage growth and more typical construction delivery costs. Unleashing that dynamic will be critical to keeping the current recovery going. Notably, contractors expect sales to increase over the next six months, according to ABC’s Construction Confidence Index.
“With workers remaining scarce, businesses have stepped up equipment purchases to boost productivity,” said Basu. “Indeed, the most recent bout of labor shortages will prompt many contractors to increase their purchases of emerging technology and equipment. While those purchases, along with associated training costs, may limit cash flow in the short term, ultimately it will translate into faster productivity growth and expanded enterprise profitability in the more distant future.”
Press Release from Associated General Contractors of America (AGC)
Construction Employment Levels Lag Begin Pre-Pandemic Totals as the Sector’s Recovery is Being Undermined by Delivery Delays, Materials Price Increases, Labor Shortages and Washington Gridlock
The construction industry added 44,000 jobs between September and October as nonresidential construction firms posted back-to-back increases for the first time since January, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government data released today. Association officials said the employment gains were welcome news but cautioned that employment levels remain well-below pre-pandemic totals as firms struggle with supply chain problems, labor shortages and federal inaction on infrastructure funding.
“It is encouraging to see continuing job growth in nonresidential construction but the industry remains far behind the overall economy in recovering all of the job losses from the pandemic,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Finding workers is a challenge after other sectors have hiring for much longer.”
Construction employment in October totaled 7,498,000, an increase of 44,000 since September. However, industry employment remained 150,000 below the pre-pandemic peak set in February 2020.
The nonresidential segment, comprising nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors plus heavy and civil engineering construction firms, added 33,000 employees in October, following a pickup of 25,800 in September. But nonresidential employment is 239,000 below the February 2020 level, as the sector has recovered only 63 percent of the jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic.
Residential construction--including building contractors such as homebuilders, along with residential specialty trades--added 10,900 employees in October. Residential employment tops the February 2020 mark by 89,000. Simonson noted that the overall economy has regained 87 percent of the jobs lost between February and April 2020, an indication that many construction workers may have found jobs in homebuilding and remodeling or in other sectors.
Association officials urged members of the House of Representatives to quickly pass a federal infrastructure bill that received broad, bipartisan support in the Senate. They noted the new investments would help boost employment levels and improve overburdened distribution networks that are contributing to the supply chain problems. They also warned that new federal COVID vaccine mandates were likely to make it harder for firms that employ 100 or more people to retain and find new workers as the vaccine hesitant shift to smaller firms.
“House members should heed the lessons from this Tuesday’s elections and focus on passing bipartisan measures that will do much to boost our economy and improve supply chains,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “At the same time, we need to appreciate that having conflicting vaccine mandates for different types of firms is likely going to encourage the vaccine hesitant to work at places where the rules do not apply.”