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Rising Pay Helps Construction Sector Adds 24,000 Employees in February

Construction firms added 24,000 employees in February, as hefty pay raises for hourly workers enabled the industry to increase employment more steeply than other sectors, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government data. Association officials said that while employment levels are now at record levels in the industry, future job gains will be hard given the lack of people who have been exposed to construction career opportunities.


“Average hourly earnings for craft and office workers in construction have consistently risen more sharply than across the private sector as a whole for several months,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “That has helped the industry add employees at a strong clip—but many more are still needed.”


Construction employment totaled a record 7,918,000, seasonally adjusted, in February, an increase of 249,000 or 3.2% from a year earlier. That growth rate exceeded the 2.9% rise in total nonfarm employment.


Nonresidential firms—comprising nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors along with heavy and civil engineering construction firms—added 11,600 employees in February and 158,700 employees or 3.5% over 12 months. Residential building and specialty trade contractors together added 12,400 employees for the month and 90,300 employees or 2.8% over the year.


Pay levels in the construction industry climbed in February at a faster pace than in the overall private sector for the sixth-straight month. Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers in construction—mostly hourly craft workers—rose by 6.1%, from $31.63 in February 2022 to $33.57 last month. That increase topped the 5.3% rise in average pay for all private sector production workers. Workers in construction now earn an average of 18.1% more per hour than in the overall private sector.

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