Another 53,000 construction workers lost their jobs in December with the industry’s unemployment rate climbing to 22.7 percent according to federal agencies.
“If it wasn’t for construction, our economic picture would actually be getting slightly better,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America. “Unfortunately, construction layoffs are dragging down the broader employment picture.”
According to new federal employment figures, more than 2 million construction workers are currently unemployed and 934,000 construction workers lost their jobs during the past 12 months. Construction employment declined 13.7 percent between December 2008 and 2009, Simonson noted. He said 34,900 nonresidential construction jobs were lost in December.
AGC officials urged Congress to reconsider provisions in the Senate-passed health care legislation to exclude small construction firms from measures designed to protect small businesses from costly new provisions. “It is hard to understand the sense in singling out construction for higher health care costs and penalties when the industry’s unemployment rate is nearly double that of any others,” said Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO.