Construction employment increased by 228,000 jobs, or 3.3 percent over the past 12 months, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Construction employment totaled 7,150,000 in March, a dip of 15,000 for the month attributed to weather-related conditions. The unemployment rate for the industry fell to 7.4 percent, the lowest March rate since the series began in 2000.
Residential construction—comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—shrank by 7,000 jobs in March, but added 114,200 jobs, or 4.3 percent, over the past 12 months. Nonresidential construction (building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) employment also increased by 114,200, or 2.7 percent, over 12 months, despite a drop of 8,200 jobs in March.
“Construction employment indicators are still signaling strong demand on an annual basis, even though unusually bad weather in several regions probably depressed hiring in March,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Employment is rising twice as fast as for the overall economy, pay rates and growth are outpacing the private sector as a whole, and the industry’s unemployment rate was the lowest ever for March.”
Hourly earnings in the industry averaged $29.43 in March, a rise of 2.9 percent from a year earlier and 9.7 percent higher than the average for all nonfarm private-sector jobs, said Simonson.
Construction officials continue to press officials at all levels of government to provide funding for career and technical education and training.
“Construction offers great careers, with above-average pay both for entry-level workers and for the industry as a whole compared to the private-sector average,” said AGC’s CEO Stephen E. Sandherr. “To make sure students and workers displaced from other jobs have the chance to gain the skills needed to succeed in growing sectors like construction, government officials must do their part. That means funding up-to-date career and technical education and training, and allowing the industry to collaborate in providing opportunities.”
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