The construction industry added 28,000 jobs on net in December, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data released Jan. 6 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a year-over-year basis, industry employment has risen by 231,000 jobs or 3.1%.
Nonresidential construction employment increased by 17,900 positions on net, with growth in all three subcategories. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 10,200 net new jobs, while nonresidential building and heavy and civil engineering added 5,800 and 1,900 jobs, respectively.
The construction unemployment rate rose to 4.4% in December. Unemployment across all industries declined from 3.6% in November to 3.5% last month.
“This employment report indicates that contractors collectively remain in expansion mode despite rising costs of capital and fears of recession,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Consistent with upbeat assessments of construction activity late last year, nonresidential contractors continue to ramp up staffing in the context of elevated backlog. In ABC’s Construction Confidence Index, contractors indicated that both sales and employment would continue to rise over the next six months.
“There was additional good news emerging from the overall U.S. economy,” said Basu. “Though the labor market remains strong and job creation persists, there are indications that wage pressures are easing. Nonetheless, the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates to restore inflation to its 2% target, with the implication that a recession remains a real possibility in 2023. Based on historical precedent, that could produce more challenging times for contractors in 2024 and/or 2025.”