U.S. construction industry employment was effectively unchanged in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimate released July 2, 2015. May’s estimate was revised downward from 17,000 to 15,000 net new jobs. Nonresidential construction lost 1,100 jobs in June, with nonresidential specialty trade contractors losing 5,600 jobs and the nonresidential building segment gaining 4,500 jobs. Residential construction shed 2,400 jobs for the months. The heavy and civil engineering segment added 3,800 net new jobs in June. 

“At first glance, this jobs report looks like a clunker,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The construction industry appeared to be full steam ahead coming into June. Prior to June, construction employment had registered two consecutive months of meaningful gains and construction spending has been meaningfully edging higher. During the past year, construction has averaged 21,000 net new jobs per month, so June represents a somewhat surprising pause in momentum.

“One possible reason for this performance may be that construction firms simply can’t find additional workers,” said Basu. “The construction unemployment rate fell four-tenths of a percentage point to 6.3 percent in June. Part of this is attributable to the fact that the U.S. labor force participation rate hasn’t been this low since Jimmy Carter occupied the White House. Moreover, there are skills mismatches between the construction labor that is available and the demands of expanding construction firms operating in infrastructure, commercial and other segments. The implication is that construction wage growth could be significant going forward and that today’s weak construction jobs report does not necessarily signal falling demand for human capital.”

Construction employment for the month and the past year breaks down as follows:
  • Nonresidential building construction gained 4,500 jobs for the month and 24,900 jobs (3.6 percent) since June 2014. 
  • Residential building construction lost 6,100 jobs in June, but gained 29,600 jobs (4.5 percent) on an annual basis.
  • Nonresidential specialty trade contractors lost 5,600 jobs for the month, and employment in that category is up by 76,500 jobs (3.5 percent) compared to the same time one year ago.
  • Residential specialty trade contractors added 3,700 net new jobs in June and have added 97,400 jobs (5.9 percent) since June 2014.
  • The heavy and civil engineering construction segment added 3,800 jobs in June and employment is up by 30,400 positions (3.3 percent) on a year-over-year basis.