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Construction Firms Add 11,000 Employees in October: Sector’s Employment at Highest Level since December 2008

Construction employers added 11,000 jobs in October as employment in the sector is at the highest level since December 2008 despite declines in public sector investments in construction projects, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. AGC officials noted that average hourly earnings for construction workers increased by 3.2 percent compared to 12 months ago as firms continue to expand amid shortages of available qualified workers.


“There is a two-part story in construction right now as private-sector demand continues to boost employment while declining public-sector demand is contributing to year-over-year declines in heavy and civil engineering construction,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist.”


Construction employment totaled 6,679,000 in October, an increase of 11,000 from September and 195,000 or 3.0 percent from a year ago. The annual rate of increase in construction employment was nearly twice as fast as the 1.7 percent increase for total nonfarm payroll employment. There were 512,000 unemployed job seekers in October who last worked in the construction industry, the lowest total for October in 10 years, Simonson added.


Residential construction—comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—added 4,500 jobs in October and 139,700, or 5.6 percent, compared to a year ago. Nonresidential construction—building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction firms—added 6,700 jobs for the month and gained 55,000 employees compared to October 2015, a 1.4 percent rise. Construction employment is up year-over-year for all segments except heavy and civil engineering construction, which lost 1,200 jobs since October 2015 amid declining public-sector investments in construction.


As the available supply of workers continues to shrink, average hourly earnings, a measure of wages and salaries for all workers, increased 3.2 percent in construction over the past year to $28.39 in October, nearly 10 percent more than for all nonfarm jobs, the economist noted. For the private nonfarm sector, earnings rose 2.8 percent over the past 12 months to $25.92.

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