Nonresidential Construction Employment Retains Momentum in August

The U.S. construction industry added 20,000 jobs in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Sept. 5 and July’s estimate was revised upward from 22,000 to 31,000 net new jobs. Nonresidential construction added 5,500 jobs in August, which could be considered a bit soft, but the segment added 15,200 jobs in July (revised upward from 6,600). 

“Today’s headline number of 142,000 jobs for the overall U.S. economy was disappointing but the nonresidential construction numbers continue to show a steady recovery,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Employment among nonresidential specialty trade contractors expanded by 2,300 positions in August and nonresidential building construction was up by 3,200 jobs, which is consistent with ongoing expansion in demand for nonresidential construction services. 

“While the national construction unemployment rate inched up to 7.7 percent, construction is a segment in which many executives complain about a lack of available skilled workers and rising unemployment must be interpreted more broadly,” said Basu. “The industry has a high demand for jobseekers and increasing demand for construction workers implies that many of these jobseekers will find employment. Moreover, the industry’s unemployment rate has fallen 1.4 percent from where it stood one year ago.” 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey, the national unemployment rate shed a tenth of a percent, falling to 6.1 percent. This small change is partially explained by a decline in the labor force, which shrank by 64,000 in August, pushing the labor force participation rate down to 62.8 percent.

Construction employment for the month and the past year breaks down as follows:
  • Nonresidential building construction employment gained 3,200 jobs for the month and is up by 27,900 jobs, or 4.2 percent, since August 2013.  
  • Residential building construction employment rose by 4,000 jobs in August and is up by 55,900 jobs, or 9.1 percent, on an annual basis.
  • Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 2,300 jobs for the month and employment in that category is up by 48,300 jobs, or 2.3 percent, from the same time one year ago.
  • Residential specialty trade contractors gained 9,200 jobs in August and have added 67,200 jobs, or 4.3 percent, since August 2013.
  • The heavy and civil engineering construction segment added just 900 jobs in August, but job totals are still up by 32,400, or 3.7 percent, on a year-over-year basis.