The construction sector added 25,000 jobs in May while the sector’s unemployment rate fell to its second lowest rate for the month and pay levels in the industry continued to rise, according to an analysis of new government data the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said construction firms are boosting pay and taking other steps to recruit workers amid tight labor conditions.
“Demand for construction workers remains strong, outside of homebuilding,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Contractors continue to report their primary challenge is finding qualified workers, not finding projects or most materials.”
Construction employment in May totaled 7,928,000, seasonally adjusted, an addition of 25,000 or 0.3% from the month prior. The sector has added 192,000 jobs during the past 12 months, an increase of 2.5%. Nonresidential construction firms—nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors along with heavy and civil engineering construction firms—added 22,100 employees in May. Meanwhile, employment at residential building and specialty trade contractors only grew by 2,500 or 0.1%.
The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience declined from 3.8% in May 2022 to 3.5%, the second lowest May rate in the 23-year history of the data. A separate government report released earlier this week reported that new hires in construction at the end of April totaled 460,000, growing 3% from one year prior. The new hires figure does not account for the number of workers who left the industry during the same time frame.
Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees in construction—covering most onsite craft workers as well as many office workers—jumped by 6.0% over the year to $34.07 per hour. Construction firms in May provided a wage “premium” of nearly 19% compared to the average hourly earnings for all private-sector production employees.