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November 3, 2023 - 4:48pm

According to data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national construction industry added 23,000 jobs on net in October.

Key Takeaways


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

Nonresidential Construction Employment Increased in October, Industry Wage Growth Outpaces Economywide Average, Says ABC

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3—The construction industry added 23,000 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. On a year-over-year basis, industry employment has increased by 219,000 jobs, an increase of 2.8%.

Nonresidential construction employment increased by 8,400 positions on net, with growth in all three subcategories. Nonresidential specialty trade added 4,200 positions, while nonresidential building and heavy and civil engineering added 2,600 and 1,600 jobs, respectively.

The construction unemployment rate increased to 4.0% in October. Unemployment across all industries increased from 3.8% in September to 3.9% last month.

"The construction industry added jobs for the seventh consecutive month in October," said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. "Over the past year, hiring has been concentrated in the nonresidential segment, with especially strong employment growth in the nonresidential building category. This is in large part due to the unprecedented surge in manufacturing megaprojects."

"While contractors’ demand for labor remains robust, the rising cost of labor, pushed upward by worker shortages, remains a pressing issue for the industry," said Basu. "Average hourly earnings for construction workers increased at over twice the rate of economywide wages in October and have risen significantly faster over the past 12 months. With over half of contractors intending to increase their staffing levels over the next six months and fewer than 7% intending to downsize, according to ABC’s Construction Confidence Index, labor shortages should continue to push wages higher over the next few quarters."


Press Release from Associated General Contractors of America (AGC)

Construction Sector Adds 23,000 Jobs In October As Unemployment Rate Falls To 4.0 Percent; Record Job Openings Point To Need For More Workers

Both Residential and Nonresidential Firms Boost Employment as Average Hourly Pay for Construction Craft Workers Increases 5.4 Percent over the Year, Outpacing Gain for All Production Employees

The construction industry added 23,000 jobs in October as unemployment rates for the sector hovered near the all-time low for the month, according to an analysis of new government data the Associated General Contractors of America released today. Association officials said the construction industry would likely have hired even more workers to keep pace with strong demand for construction.

"Despite the fact pay for hourly craft workers in construction is rising faster than for production employees, contractors are still struggling to find enough skilled workers," said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. "Both residential and nonresidential construction employers want to hire even more workers."

Construction employment in October totaled 8,033,000, seasonally adjusted, an increase of 23,000 or 0.3 percent from September. The sector has added 219,000 jobs during the past 12 months, a gain of 2.8 percent. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added 13,700 employees in October and 55,600 (1.7 percent) over 12 months. Employment at nonresidential construction firms—nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors along with heavy and civil engineering construction firms—climbed by 8,400 positions for the month and 163,300 (3.6 percent) since October 2022.

The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience was 4.0 percent in October, one of the lowest October rates in the 24-year history of the data. A separate government report released earlier this week reported that there were a record-high 438,000 job openings in construction at the end of September, far exceeding the number hired that month and a further sign of contractors’ difficulty in finding qualified workers.

Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees in construction—covering most onsite craft workers as well as many office workers—climbed by 5.4 percent over the year to $34.64 per hour. Construction firms in September provided a wage “premium” of nearly 19 percent compared to the average hourly earnings for all private-sector production employees.

Association officials noted that efforts underway in Congress to exclude the construction industry from the H-2B visa program would only add to the industry’s labor shortages and undermine its ability to complete infrastructure and economic development projects. They urged Congress to boost investments in career and technical education programs and ways to increase the number of visas available for people with construction skills.

"Contractors are trying to keep pace with demand for new infrastructure, clean energy and development projects, among others," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. "Limiting to who can work in construction will only undermine the sector’s ability to deliver projects on time and on budget."