Construction employment increased by 21,000 in January to a two-year high of 5,572,000, following an increase of 31,000 in December. Employment in both months may have benefited from widespread mild and dry weather, according to an analysis by the Association of General Contractors chief economist Ken Simonson.
The January total was up 116,000, or 2.1 percent, compared with a year ago, but still 28-percent below the peak set in April 2006. Heavy and civil engineering grew by 21,000 jobs (2.6 percent); nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors by 17,000 jobs (2 percent); and residential building and specialty trade contractors by 41,000 jobs (2.1 percent).
The unemployment rate for construction workers was 17.7 percent in January compared with 22.5 percent in January 2011.
Construction spending in December reached a 20-month high of $816 million, an increase of 1.5 percent from November and 4.3 percent compared with December 2010, according to the Census Bureau. However, spending for 2011 as a whole dropped for the fifth straight year, down 2.0 percent from 2010.
Private nonresidential spending performed best for the month and full year, increasing 3.3 percent in December and 2.4 percent in 2011 compared with 2010.