According to data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national construction industry added 1,000 jobs on net in October.
Press Release from Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc (ABC)
WASHINGTON, Nov. 4—The construction industry added 1,000 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 risen by 266,000 jobs, an increase of 3.6%.
Nonresidential construction employment increased by 300 positions on net, with growth in only one of the three subcategories. Nonresidential building added 3,200 net new jobs, while nonresidential specialty trade and heavy and civil engineering lost 2,500 and 400 jobs, respectively.
The construction unemployment rate rose to 4.1% in October. Unemployment across all industries rose from 3.5% in September to 3.7% last month.
"The country’s job market remains strong, and that means we remain in a bad place because, in this economic environment, good news is bad news and vice versa,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “We can expect to hear many such ironic statements during the months ahead. A few days ago, we learned that America had 10.7 million available, unfilled jobs in September. More than 400,000 of these are construction industry job openings. Today we learned that employers continue to hire, with the overall economy adding 261,000 jobs in October."
“For inflation to return to its 2% target, the demand for labor needs to weaken,” said Basu. “We’re not there yet, which means that the current cycle of raising interest rates will continue. Among other things, that stands to weaken demand for construction services as borrowing costs ramp higher amid ongoing labor shortages and elevated materials prices. Due to those factors, the construction industry added just 1,000 net new jobs last month, the slowest growth since April.”
“The good news is that bad news will eventually arrive,” said Basu. “As the economy slows further and recessionary conditions take hold, inflation will dissipate as demand for goods and services weakens. While it is unfortunate that economic stakeholders have to wait for bad news before good news arrives, contractors still have healthy backlogs, according to ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator, and that will carry many through 2023 even if a recession arrives in America next year.”
Press Release from Associated General Contractors of America (AGC)
Construction Pay Continues to Increase as Average Hourly Earnings Hits $35.27, as Industry Officials Push for Measures to Encourage More People to Pursue High-Paying Construction Careers
The construction industry added only 1,000 employees in October while it continued to boost wages for hourly workers as firms compete to hire from a small labor pool, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government data. Association officials said the small increase in construction employment is an indication of how hard it has become for construction firms to find qualified workers to hire.
“The construction sector would likely have added more jobs in October if only firms could find people to bring on board,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Labor market conditions are so tight, however, that the sector barely increased in size even as demand remains strong for many types of construction projects.”
Total construction employment moved up by a mere 1,000 employees to 7,721,000 in October, an increase of 266,000 or 3.6 percent from a year earlier. Nonresidential building firms added 3,200 employees for the month, while residential building firms added 3,200. Those gains, however, were offset job losses among specialty trade contractors (-4,000 jobs) and heavy and civil construction firms (-400).
Pay levels in the construction industry continued to increase in October. The average hourly earnings in construction went from $33.41 in October 2021 to $35.27 last month, an increase of 5.6 percent, higher that than the 4.7 percent increase in total private sector earnings for the year. Average weekly earnings in the sector also increased from $1,296.31 in October 2021 to $1,372.00 last month.
The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience increased slightly from 4.0 percent in October 2021 to 4.1 percent last month. The number of unemployed construction workers went from 398,000 in October 2021 to 419,000 in October of 2022, a slight increase, but still a small pool of available workers given the overall size of the industry, Sandherr noted.
Association officials urged the Biden administration and Congress to take steps to address construction workforce shortages. This includes allowing more people to lawfully enter the country who have construction experience to provide short-term relief. At the same time, they continued to urge leaders to address a funding gap that puts $5 federal dollars into college-focused education programs for every dollar invested in career and technical education.
“Washington officials are making historic investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and the energy sector,” said Sandherr. “But as much as they want to see new things getting built, they have not been willing to invest in ways to encourage more people to do all that construction.”