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News » US » Construction jobs reach 10-year high » published 10 Jul 2018

Construction jobs reach 10-year high

Employment in the US construction sector has reached a 10-year high, with the industry adding 13,000 jobs in June.

In total, 282,000 construction jobs were added over the year, according an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials said that employment is being boosted by tax and regulatory reform and by recent increases in infrastructure investments but they warn that trade fights and labor shortages threaten future growth. Many construction firms appear to be more willing to hire amid lower tax rates and a more favorable business environment.

"The construction industry continues to add workers faster than the economy as a whole, and the industry is paying premium wages to attract and retain those workers," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "The employment gains are occurring in both residential and non-residential construction. However, the industry is having to rely more and more on workers without construction experience, as the pool of unemployed construction workers has nearly evaporated."

Construction employment totaled 7,222,000 in June, the highest level since May 2008 and a gain of 4.1% over the past 12 months. Simonson pointed out that the year-over-year growth rate in industry jobs was more than double the 1.6% rise in total non-farm payroll employment.

Hourly earnings in the industry averaged US$29.71 in June, an increase of 2.9% from a year earlier. That put average hourly earnings in construction 10.1% higher than the average for all non-farm private-sector jobs, Simonson added.

The unemployment for workers with construction experience in June was 4.7%, virtually unchanged from the levels in June 2017 (4.5%) and June 2016 (4.6%) - a sign that the industry is operating at essentially full employment, Simonson said.

Employment in residential construction – comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—grew by 4,400 jobs in June and by 133,800 jobs over the past 12 months, a 5.0% increase. Employment in non-residential construction - including building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction - grew by 8,600 jobs in June and by 147,900 during the past year, a 3.5% increase.

"The steps Congress and the Trump administration have taken to create a more positive business environment and boost employment appear to be working," Stephen E Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer, said. "But new trade disputes and chronic underfunding of career and technical education programs pose a real threat to continued employment gains in the sector."

 

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This article was published on 10 Jul 2018 (last updated on 10 Jul 2018).

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