Steel Products

Construction Adds 11,000 Jobs in October

Written by Sandy Williams

Hurricane recovery may have boosted construction jobs slightly in October, but the Associated General Contractors of America says strong overall conditions prevail in the industry.

Construction employment was at its highest level in nine years last month, adding 11,000 jobs and reducing industry unemployment to 4.5 percent, the lowest rate since 2006.

“The construction industry continues to contribute to the nation’s economic expansion, adding jobs at double the rate of the overall economy,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “While some of the job gain may reflect hurricane recovery work in Texas and Florida, recent spending and regional employment data show the job growth spans both residential and nonresidential projects, and is occurring in most states.”

Construction employment totaled 6,930,000 in October, a gain of 11,000 for the month and 187,000, or 2.8 percent, over 12 months—twice as great as the 1.4 percent rise in total nonfarm payroll employment. Residential construction—comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—added 13,300 jobs in October and 98,500 jobs, or 3.8 percent, over the past 12 months. Nonresidential construction (building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) employment dipped by 2,000 jobs in October, but increased by 89,100 positions, or 2.2 percent, over 12 months.

Average hourly earnings in the industry climbed to $29.06, an increase of 2.3 percent from a year earlier. Simonson noted that construction jobs are nearly 10 percent more per hour than the average U.S. nonfarm private-sector wage of $26.53 per hour.

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Private-sector demand continues to expand, but public-sector investments in infrastructure and other construction projects are down for the year. The association urges Congress to include new infrastructure funding as part of any final tax reform measure. Congress also needs to ensure that pass-through businesses, including the majority of construction firms, benefit from tax reform, said AGC.

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