Construction Industry Hits A Setback For February Employment Levels
Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 227,000 in February while the unemployment rate remained at 8.3%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The number of unemployed persons was at 12.8 million for February while both the labor force and employment rose for the month. Private-sector employment gained 233,000 jobs with gains in professional and business services, health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and mining. The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged 34.5 hours in February while average hourly earnings rose 0.1% to $23.31.
The construction industry lost 13,000 jobs between January and February, attributed to weather, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
“Since many firms were able to either get an early start, or a late finish, to construction activity in December and January because of mild conditions, this month's job decline is probably more of a seasonal correction than the start of a new trend,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Given that the industry added over 47,000 jobs in the previous two months, the overall trend line is actually more positive than the monthly figures would indicate.”
Even as month-to-month levels declined slightly, total construction employment is 1.2% higher than February 2011 at 5,554,000 jobs. When comparing the past six months to their levels the previous year, all six months have shown increases. Simonson said that “having a half-year of steady improvement shows that the worst has passed." However, the construction unemployment rate in February was 17.1%, which is double the national unemployment rate.
Residential specialty trade contractor’s employment increased 1.6% from the previous year while nonresidential building construction gained 2.3%. Heavy and civil engineering construction employment rose 1.6% along with residential building increasing 1.3%.
AGC officials reported “the pickup in construction jobs was based largely on recent increases in private sector construction activity.”
(Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Associated General Contractors of America)