Construction Employment Trends up in September

The construction industry added 23,000 jobs in September, and employment in the sector hit its highest level since the end of 2008, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Association officials noted that average hourly earnings for construction workers increased by 2.8 percent compared to 12 months ago as labor shortages continue to prove challenging for many firms.
“Demand for construction remains quite strong but contractors continue to struggle to find qualified workers,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “The monthly declines the industry experienced during the summer were likely caused by worker shortages instead of shortages of work for many firms.”

Construction employment totaled 6,669,000 in September, an increase of 23,000 from August and 218,000—or 3.4 percent—from a year ago. The annual rate of increase in construction employment was nearly twice as fast as the 1.7 percent increase for total nonfarm payroll employment.

As the available supply of workers continues to shrink, average hourly earnings, a measure of wages and salaries for all workers, increased 2.8 percent in construction over the past year to $28.30 in September—nearly 10 percent more than for all nonfarm jobs—Simonson notes. For the private nonfarm sector, earnings rose 2.4 percent over the past 12 months to $25.79.

Residential construction, comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors, added 15,700 jobs in September and 146,000, or 5.9 percent, compared to a year ago. Nonresidential construction—building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction firms—added 7,000 jobs for the month and gained 72,000 employees compared to September 2015, a 1.8 percent rise.