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Construction Sector Sheds 9,000 Jobs in March

The construction sector shed 9,000 jobs in March, the first decrease since January 2022, even as the sector’s unemployment rate fell and total number of job openings in the sector hit a near-record high, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government data.


“Despite a small dip in headcount, construction firms continued to post a high level of job openings and raised pay more than other industries—two signs they still want to hire more workers,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But the pool of unemployed, experienced jobseekers keeps shrinking for the construction sector.”


Construction employment in March totaled 7,888,000, seasonally adjusted, a dip of 9,000 or 0.1% from the record high in February and the first decrease in 14 months. Nonresidential firms—comprising nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors along with heavy and civil engineering construction firms—shed a statistically insignificant 1,800 employees in March. Employment at residential building and specialty trade contractors slipped by 7,000 or 0.2%.


The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experienced declined from 6.0% in March 2022 to 5.6%, the second-lowest March rate in the 23-year history of the data. A separate government report released in early April reported that job openings in construction at the end of February totaled 384,000, just shy of the all-time high for February of 388,000.


Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees in construction—covering most onsite craft workers as well as many office workers—jumped by 6.6% over the year to $33.82 per hour. Construction firms in March provided a wage “premium” of nearly 19% compared to the average hourly earnings for all private-sector production employees.

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