Construction Firms Add 23,000 Employees in September

Words: Dan Kamys7 October 2016 — According to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America, construction employers added 23,000 jobs in September as employment in the sector hit the highest level since the end of 2008. Association officials noted that average hourly earnings for construction workers increased by 2.8% compared to 12 months ago as labor shortages continue to prove challenging for many firms. 

Construction employment totaled 6,669,000 in September, an increase of 23,000 from August and 218,000 or 3.4% from a year ago. That is higher than at any point since December 2008, when there were 6,701,000 people working in construction. The annual rate of increase in construction employment was nearly twice as fast as the 1.7% increase for total non-farm payroll employment. There were 474,000 unemployed jobseekers in September who last worked in the construction industry, the lowest total for September in 16 years.

As the available supply of workers continues to shrink, average hourly earnings, a measure of wages and salaries for all workers, increased 2.8% in construction over the past year to $28.30 in September, nearly 10% more than for all non-farm jobs. For the private non-farm sector, earnings rose 2.4% over the past 12 months to $25.79.

Residential construction added 15,700 jobs in September and 146,000, or 5.9%, compared to a year ago. Non-residential construction added 7,000 jobs for the month and gained 72,000 employees compared to September 2015, a 1.8% rise. There were year-over-year gains for all segments, but job losses from August to September among non-residential building firms.

Association officials said they were encouraged by the new construction employment figures, but they cautioned that labor shortages remain significant and could impact future hiring levels. They urged members of the U.S. Senate to act on House-passed legislation to provide new flexibility and higher funding levels for career and technical education programs across the country.

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