Construction employers added 26,000 jobs between August and September as the industry’s unemployment rate dropped to 13.3 percent, according to an analysis of new federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the increase is the first significant change in construction employment levels since February and reflects growing private-sector demand for nonresidential construction projects.
Total construction employment now stands at 5,551,000 compared to 5,514,000 in September 2010, a 0.7-percent increase. The bulk of the construction gains came from the nonresidential sector. Nonresidential building construction added 13,200 jobs in September while the nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 10,700 jobs and heavy and civil engineering construction added 6,200.
“These numbers give us a taste for how investing in construction activity can really boost overall employment figures,” said association CEO Stephen Sandherr. “However, the real question is whether these numbers are an anomaly or the start of a positive trend.”
Sandherr said the industry’s 13.3-percent unemployment rate was an improvement from the 17.2 percent of a year earlier but far larger than the all-industry rate of 9.1 percent. He noted that much of the decline in the industry’s unemployment rate was caused by construction workers leaving the industry.
Association officials cautioned that the increase in construction employment will be short-lived should Congress and the administration continue making cuts to infrastructure and construction programs.