Steel Markets

AGC: Construction Sector Adds Jobs in October

Written by David Schollaert

The U.S. construction sector saw an employment boost in October, as firms added 44,000 workers to their payrolls. The increase was supported by a 10.4% decline in the sector’s unemployment rate, while nonresidential construction firms posted back-to-back increases for the first time since January, reports the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) in its latest analysis of government data.

The employment gains were welcome news, yet employment levels remain well below pre-pandemic totals as firms continue to struggle with supply-chain problems, labor shortages and federal inaction on infrastructure funding, the AGC cautioned.

“It is encouraging to see continuing job growth in nonresidential construction, but the industry remains far behind the overall economy in recovering all of the job losses from the pandemic,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Finding workers is a challenge after other sectors have been hiring for much longer.”

Construction employment in October totaled 7,498,000, an increase of 44,000 since September, the strongest gain in seven months. Industry employment, however, remained 150,000 below the pre-pandemic peak set in February 2020.

The nonresidential segment, comprised of nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors plus heavy and civil engineering construction firms, added 33,000 employees in October, following a pickup of 25,800 in September. But nonresidential employment is 239,000 below the February 2020 level, as the sector has recovered only 63% of the jobs lost in the first two months of the pandemic.

Residential construction – including building contractors, homebuilders, and residential specialty trades – added 10,900 employees in October. Residential employment tops the February 2020 mark by 89,000. Simonson noted that the overall economy has regained 87% of the jobs lost between February and April 2020, an indication that many construction workers may have found jobs in homebuilding and remodeling or in other sectors.

AGC Constr.Emp Oct

David Schollaert

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