Tag Archive for 'construction employment'


Association Urges Lawmakers and Public Officials to Increase Support for Craft Worker Training Programs to Address Ongoing Demand for Infrastructure, Private and Residential Construction in 2017
Construction employment slipped by 3,000 jobs in December, while average hourly earnings accelerated, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that recent construction spending numbers and their own survey of members suggest demand for construction remains strong, suggesting that the lack of hiring may be due to a shortage of available workers.

“This report presents mixed signals about the state of the construction industry,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Although a dip in employment might normally be a sign of declining demand, in this case the industry is raising wages and taking other steps to attract and retain workers. Construction spending in November hit a 10-year high, with one-month and year-over-year increases in all major segments. Looking ahead, contractors say they expect more work in every category in 2017 than in 2016.”

Construction employment totaled 6,699,000 in December, a decrease of 3,000 from November but an increase of 102,000 or 1.5 percent from a year ago. Average hourly earnings in construction increased 3.0 percent over the past year to $28.42 per hour. Earnings have been rising in recent months at the fastest annual rate since 2009, which Simonson said is evidence that contractors are still eager to expand their headcounts.

Residential construction—comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—added 9,800 jobs in December and 102,500, or 3.0 percent, compared to a year ago. Nonresidential construction (building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) employment shrank by 13,400 employees in December and was virtually flat (-400 employees, 0.0 percent) over the year.

These numbers contrast with Census Bureau data on construction spending in November that were released on Wednesday, Simonson observed. Those figures showed that overall spending increased 0.9 percent for the month and 4.1 percent over 12 months. Total residential spending was up 1.0 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively, while total nonresidential spending climbed 0.8 percent from October and 4.9 percent from November 2015.

Association officials noted that both the recent spending data and a survey of members that they plan to release on January 10 point to continued construction activity and an eagerness by contractors to hire—if they can find qualified workers. The association urged lawmakers and government officials to expand and fund employment and training programs to equip students and workers with the skills needed to become productive construction employees.

“Contractors are hopeful that demand for infrastructure, private investment and housing will remain strong in 2017,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But they need more workers to satisfy that demand. Government at all levels must step up its programs to educate and train the next generation of construction craft workers.”

Call in January 10 at 1 p.m. EST for AGC’s 2017 Construction Hiring and Business Forecasts release. Toll-Free Call-in Number: 1 (800) 874-4559; (Canadian Toll Free 1 (800) 696-0876); Verbal Pass code (to be given to the operator): TURM25524.

ABC Reports: Construction Material Prices Rise Month-to-Month, Remain Historically Low

Construction input prices expanded on a monthly basis for the second consecutive month in April, increasing by 0.5 percent according to an analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Producer Price Index released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The two-month growth streak follows nine consecutive months during which construction input prices fell and construction input prices remain 2.9 percent below their April 2015 levels.

Prices have now decreased on a year-over-year basis for seventeen consecutive months. Nonresidential construction inputs behaved similarly, expanding 0.5 percent month-over-month but falling 3.1 percent year-over-year.

“Despite the end of month-to-month materials price decreases, prices remain low by historic standards and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Commodity prices, including oil prices, have been edging higher lately in response to a number of potentially temporary phenomena, including a weakening U.S. dollar. Coming into the year, the presumption among many market participants was that U.S. interest rates would rise meaningfully, thereby increasing the value of the dollar. Contrary to expectations, interest rates have not risen significantly, and the dollar has been weakening in response.

“That has helped to set the stage for the recent bounce-back in oil and certain other commodity prices,” said Basu. “Other factors have not been as supportive, including a still-weak global economy. Global economic weakness is likely to persist, and the dollar may begin to strengthen again. This means that construction firm managers should not assume that oil and other prices will rise steadily. In fact, reversals in commodity prices remain quite possible. While oil prices have risen sharply since lows achieved earlier this year, copper, natural gas and other prices have expanded only modestly. The next materials price report could easily show further inflation. The story of inexpensive materials will continue to be told.”

Eight key input prices rose in April on a monthly basis:

Crude petroleum prices expanded 17.6 percent from March 2016 but are down 22.4 percent from April 2015.

Unprocessed energy material prices rose 9 percent on a monthly basis but fell 18.2 percent on a year-ago basis.

Prices for steel mill products are up 2 percent on a monthly basis but down 11.3 percent on a yearly basis.

Iron and steel prices expanded 4.9 percent month-over-month but declined 8.6 percent year-over-year.

Softwood lumber prices grew 2.7 percent for the month and 1.8 percent from April 2015.

Concrete product prices expanded by 0.7 percent month-over-month and are up 3.1 percent year-over-year.

Natural gas prices increased 8.4 percent for the month but are down 25.7 percent from the same period one year ago.

Fabricated structural metal prices products rose 0.2 percent month-over-month but decreased 2 percent year-over-year.

Three key input prices declined on a monthly basis:

Prices for prepared asphalt and tar and roofing and siding products fell by 1.9 percent from March 2016 and are down 1.5 percent from April 2015.

Prices for plumbing fixtures and fittings fell 0.1 percent for the month but are up 0.1 percent from the same time last year.

Nonferrous wire and cable prices fell 0.3 percent on a monthly basis and 6.1 percent on a yearly basis.


Additional ABC Economic Analysis:
Construction Spending
Construction Employment
Producer Price Index
Economic Growth (GDP)
ABC Economic Reports:
Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI)
Construction Confidence Index
State-Level Reports

ABC Reports: June Construction Unemployment Rates Improve in 45 States from 2014


Analysis by Bernard Markstein

Construction employment stalled nationally on a seasonally adjusted (SA) basis in June. However, as expected, not seasonally adjusted (NSA) employment increased from May. The result was that 38 states experienced a decline in their estimated NSA construction unemployment rate.

Construction activity and employment continues to improve from a year ago. Thus, on a year-over-year basis, the NSA construction unemployment rates for the country and 45 states were down in June.

For the first half of the year, SA construction jobs rose 105,000, while the industry added 262,000 jobs from June 2014 to June 2015 on an NSA basis.

The Census Bureau reported on July 1 that total SA nominal (current) dollar construction spending increased 0.8 percent in May. Nonresidential construction spending, which struggled in 2014, has advanced for four consecutive months. Total construction spending increased for six months straight.

The Top Five States

The five states with the lowest construction unemployment rates were:

  1. South Dakota*
  2. Nebraska*
  3. North Dakota
  4. Idaho and Montana (tie)

* Unemployment Rate for Construction and Mining

All of the top five states are in the same geographic region, although the Census Bureau places Idaho and Montana in a different census division (West North Central for Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota; Mountain for Idaho and Montana). Wyoming, which would fit in neatly with this group (part of the Mountain census division), was just out of the top five at number six (up from number eight in May).

Four of the top five states were also among the top five in May with a somewhat different order. South Dakota moved into the number one spot from being tied for second with North Dakota in May. Nebraska slipped into the second position from the first in May.

North Dakota fell to third place with the decline in its position, undoubtedly largely due to the slump in oil prices and the resulting slowdown in exploration and drilling new wells. Nonetheless, both the construction unemployment rate and the overall state unemployment rate are at a low level that other states would envy.

Fourth place was a tie between Idaho and Montana. For Idaho, June’s ranking was an improvement from its number seven position in May. Montana moved up from fifth place in May based on revised data (it had previously been in fourth place). Maryland, with a construction and mining unemployment rate,  took over Montana’s fourth place in May based on revised data (originally reported as number five) but fell to tenth place in June in a tie with Utah, which also held tenth place in May.

The Bottom Five States

The five states with the highest construction unemployment rates (from lowest to highest) were:

  1. New Mexico
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Georgia and West Virginia (tie)
  4. Mississippi

Three of the states with the five highest construction unemployment rates in May were among the five highest in June: Georgia, Mississippi and Rhode Island. For the second month in a row, Mississippi had the highest rate in the nation. On the positive side, the estimated construction unemployment rate for all 50 states fell below 10 percent for the first time since October 2014.

Georgia and West Virginia were tied for second highest in June. Georgia also had the second highest rate in May based on revised data (originally reported as third highest). West Virginia moved from tied with Connecticut and Missouri for eleventh highest in May to its tie with Georgia for second highest rate in June. West Virginia was one of five states with a year-over-year increase in their estimated construction unemployment rates and one of 12 states with an increase from their May rate. Among those 12 states, West Virginia along with New Hampshire had the largest monthly increase—1.6 percent.

Rhode Island moved from fifth highest in May based on revised data (originally reported as sixth highest) to fourth highest in June. New Mexico took Rhode Island’s fifth place position in June moving down from 17th highest in May.

New Jersey and South Carolina, which tied for third highest in May based on revised data, were sixth and seventh highest, respectively, in June. Alabama and California tied with South Carolina for seventh highest in June. In May, California’s construction unemployment rate was also seventh highest, while Alabama’s rate was sixth highest based on revised data (originally reported as fifth highest).

State_RankingRead more on ABC’s website.


Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) launched its state-by-state economic analysis earlier this year with the release of economist Bernard M. Markstein’s analysis of construction’s contribution to each state’s gross domestic product (GDP). ABC will be releasing Markstein’s next analysis of GDP data August 11, 2015

Unique to ABC, Markstein’s state-level construction unemployment estimate and analysis of state-level construction job markets for June is below. This analysis is produced monthy in addition to ABC’s existing national economic data and analysis. Background on how the data was derived and Markstein’s methodology is available on ABC’s website. 

ABC REPORTS: Nonresidential Construction Employment Ticks up Despite Dismal Overall Jobs Report

CEU2“Today’s jobs report was a stunner and construction was not spared as the sector lost jobs for the first time in 15 months.” —ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

Employment_4.3.15Nonresidential construction added 5,000 net new jobs in March, with nonresidential specialty trade contractors leading the way by contributing 4,400 new jobs, according to the April 3 Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimate. As a whole, the U.S. construction industry lost 1,000 jobs in March, while February’s construction employment estimate (29,000 new jobs) was unrevised. The residential sector also regressed in March, losing 2,800 jobs.

“Today’s jobs report was a stunner and construction was not spared as the sector lost jobs for the first time in 15 months,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Coming into the week, the consensus estimate for March’s net new job creation was in the range of 250,000. An ADP report released earlier in the week indicated that the U.S. private sector only added 189,000 jobs, which brought the consensus estimate closer to 200,000, however the initial Bureau of Labor Statistics’ estimate for March fell well short of even that diminished expectation.

“The knee-jerk reaction is to blame the weather,” said Basu. “While that seems natural, the fact of the matter is that the latest employment release comes on top of a sea of other data indicating that the U.S. economy has been losing momentum since the third quarter of last year and retail sales and manufacturing-related data have been among the sources of disappointment.

“Weather serves as a potential partial explanation, but another possibility is that some of the slowdown in job growth is attributable to reduced activity in the nation’s energy sector,” said Basu. “While lower fuel prices are helping to support various forms of activity, the impact on oil producers has been jarring. Those operating in the oil exploration and production segments of the economy have come to dominate layoff announcements recently. It may be that the negative impacts of lower energy prices are felt more intensely in the short-term, but that the positive effects will become obvious later this year.”

The national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.5 percent in March, though this is not necessarily a good thing. The labor force lost 96,000 workers in March after losing 178,000 in February. The labor force participation rate currently sits at 62.7 percent, equaling its lowest level since 1977. The construction unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent in March, a 1.1 percent decrease from March. The falling construction unemployment rate is not something to celebrate, though; this too is a direct reflection of a shrinking labor force.

Construction employment for the month and the past year breaks down as follows:

  • Nonresidential building construction employment expanded by 5,700 net new jobs for the month and is up by 31,600 jobs (4.6 percent) since February 2014.
  • Residential building construction employment shrank by 500 jobs in February, but is still up by 45,300 jobs (7 percent) on an annual basis.
  • Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 10,000 jobs for the month and employment in that category is up by 86,100 jobs (4 percent) from the same time one year ago.
  • Residential specialty trade contractors added 17,200 net new jobs in February and 122,500 total jobs (7.5 percent) since February 2014.
  • The heavy and civil engineering construction segment shed 3,700 jobs in February, but employment is by 35,700 positions (4 percent) on a year-over-year basis

To view the previous employment report, click here

ABC Reports: Nonresidential Construction Hiring Surges

CEU2“The U.S. economy added an average of 289,000 jobs per month during the final three months of 2014, indicating that momentum is surging as we transition into 2015.”—ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

Construction employment december 2014The U.S. construction industry added 48,000 jobs in December, including 22,800 jobs in nonresidential construction, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary estimate released Jan. 9. November’s estimate was unchanged in this release, remaining at 20,000 net new construction jobs, but nonresidential construction’s November jobs figure was upwardly revised to 7,100 jobs.

“The U.S. economy added an average of 289,000 jobs per month during the final three months of 2014, indicating that momentum is surging as we transition into 2015,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “This represents good news for the construction industry in 2015 and perhaps beyond, particularly with respect to office construction, retail construction, and other segments that benefit directly from accelerating job growth and decreasing unemployment. Overall, the economy has built steady momentum since the end of last winter adding an average of 246,000 jobs per month in 2014, an increase of more than 50,000 jobs added per month compared to 2013.”

According to the BLS household survey, the national unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in December. This represents the lowest level of unemployment since June 2008. The declining unemployment rate is most likely a result of a labor force that shrank by 273,000 persons in December, after expanding in the previous two months. The labor force participation rate fell by .02 percent and now sits at 62.7 percent.

“One of the most interesting aspects of the report is that construction unemployment ended the year at 8.3 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis,” said Basu. “While construction firm executives have been worried for years about the specter of construction skills shortages, the BLS data indicate there are plenty of people looking for jobs in construction. It is likely that many of these prospective workers lack the skills necessary to fill the openings construction firms are seeking to fill or live in areas where construction employment growth is much slower. Normally, high construction unemployment would imply slow rates of wage and compensation increases; however, ABC believes this is not the case. Because of the presence of skills mismatches, wage gains are likely to be sizeable in 2015 even in the presence of lofty rates of construction unemployment.”

Construction employment for the month and the past year breaks down as follows:

  • Nonresidential building construction employment expanded by 10,000 for the month and is up by 23,400 jobs, or 3.4 percent, since December 2013.
  • Residential building construction employment expanded by 800 jobs in December and is up by 44,500 jobs, or 7 percent, on an annual basis.
  • Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 12,800 jobs for the month and employment in that category is up by 76,900 jobs, or 3.7 percent, from the same time one year ago.
  • Residential specialty trade contractors gained 12,700 jobs in December and have added 87,600 jobs, or 5.6 percent, since December 2013.
  • The heavy and civil engineering construction segment gained 11,600 jobs in December and job totals are up by 57,900, or 6.6 percent, on a year-over-year basis.

To view the previous employment report, click here.