Construction Spending Edges Higher, But Sector Still Lacks Workers: AGC

Written by Laura Miller

Construction spending edged higher in September, but a shortage of workers continues to constrain project completion rates, according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

September spending on construction reached $1.997 trillion on a seasonally adjusted annual rate, unadjusted for inflation. That was a 0.4% rise from August’s rate.

Private residential construction spending increased 0.6% month on month. Spending on single-family homes registered a 1.3% increase, while spending on multifamily projects dipped 0.1%.

Spending on private nonresidential construction projects inched up 0.1%, and public construction investments increased 0.4%, according to the government data analyzed by AGC.

AGC noted the construction industry added 294,000 employees in September – 18% less than the same month of 2022. At the same time, overall job openings across the US rose to 438,000 as of the end of September.

“The huge number of openings was a sign the drop in hiring is due to a dearth of applicants, not projects,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist.

AGC officials have warned Congress that excluding “the construction industry from the H-2B visa program will make it even harder for firms to find enough workers to keep pace with demand.”

The H-2B visa program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the US.

“Excluding construction from the visa program is like having a federal government that wants to build things but doesn’t seem interested in having anybody to build them,” commented AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr.

Laura Miller

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