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News » US » Construction sector adds more jobs and ups hourly rates » published 8 Jan 2018

Construction sector adds more jobs and ups hourly rates

Construction industry employment has reached a nine-year high and hourly earnings have risen 3% as the sector competes to attract workers.

Employers added 30,000 jobs in December and 210,000 in 2017, according to an analysis of new government data by Associated General Contractors of America. Employment is at the highest level since September 2008, the analysis found.

The unemployment rate has fallen to 5.9%; association officials say most construction firms predict they will continue adding jobs in 2018 amid strong demand.

"Employment and pay in construction have risen more rapidly over the past year than in the economy overall, as the supply of unemployed, experienced workers continues to shrink," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "Construction pay is now almost 10 percent higher than the private-sector average. Nevertheless, contractors report increasing difficulty filling many types of hourly craft and salaried openings, given the low rate of unemployment throughout the economy, including construction."

Construction employment totaled 6,993,000 in December, a gain of 30,000 for the month and 210,000, or 3.1%, for all of 2017.

The number of unemployed jobseekers with recent construction experience fell to 554,000 in December, down from 670,000 in December 2016, while the unemployment rate in construction dropped to 5.9% last month from 7.4% a year earlier. The rate and number of unemployed were the lowest for December in the 17-year history of the series. These declines show how difficult it has become for the industry to find experienced workers, Simonson said.

Average hourly earnings in the industry climbed to US$29.24, a rise of 3% from a year earlier. That was a steeper increase than for the total private sector, which rose 2.5% to an average of US$26.63 per hour.

  

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This article was published on 8 Jan 2018 (last updated on 8 Jan 2018).

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