Economy Watch: Construction Industry Gains Jobs, But Still Short Workers

The sector's unemployment rate increased by 0.5 percent in November, now standing at 5 percent, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors latest report.

Source: Associated Builders and Contractors; Bureau of Labor Statistics
Source: Associated Builders and Contractors; Bureau of Labor Statistics

The U.S. construction sector added 24,000 net new jobs in November, which represents a 0.3 percent month-over-month increase, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released late last week. Specialty trade contractors added 23,000 of those jobs. Over the last 12 months, specialty trade contractors added 132,000 jobs.

Nonresidential construction employment added 8,600 net new jobs in November, which would have been substantially higher except for heavy and civil engineering, which lost 7,800 for the month. In October, nonresidential construction firms lost 3,600 net positions.

The construction industry unemployment rate increased by 0.5 percentage points and now stands at 5 percent. While this increase is likely due to seasonal factors, an increase in the construction industry unemployment rate is not necessarily a bad thing, given ongoing skilled labor shortages, according to Associated Builders and Contractors.

“The nation added 228,000 net new jobs in November, which makes it the second consecutive strong month for employment growth…for the most part, today’s report is consistent with long-term trends indicating strong demand for human capital and an economy poised to avert a downturn in the near term,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu in the report. 

The nonresidential building construction sector has seen an increase in employment of 3.1 percent during the past year, ABC noted. The nonresidential specialty trade contractor segment has increased employment by 2.7 percent.