Construction’s August unemployment rate dropped to 6.1% from the year-earlier 7.7% but rose slightly from July’s level, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.
BLS’s monthly employment report, released on Sept. 4, also showed that construction’s workforce continued to expand, adding 3,000 jobs in August.
Gains in nearly all segments outweighed a decline of 1,600 positions in non-residential buildings.
Specialty trade contractors picked up 3,100 jobs last month and heavy and civil engineering construction added 1,500, BLS reported.
But the Associated General Contractors of America observerd that construction hiring has slowed, even though the pace of building has been strong.
Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist, said in a statement, "The recent flowdown in construction hiring appears to reflect difficulty in finding qualified employees rather than lack of projects needing workers."
He added, "Hiring has slowed to a crawl in the past six months, even though contractors have raised wages at the fastest rate in six years and spending on most types of structures has accelerated."
The Associated Builders and Contractors, which concentrates on non-residential construction, noted that the sector lost 700 jobs in August, which follows a decline of 6,400 positions in July and June combined.
Anirban Basu, ABC chief economist, said in a statement, "The recent slide in non-residential construction employment is likely an aberration caused by seasonal adjustments."
Basu added, "Considering that August was the 66th consecutive month of [overall] private-sector job growth—the longest streak ever—there's plenty of reason for optimism about the construction industry's economic health."
Construction’s 6.1% August jobless rate rose from July’s 5.5%, which was the industry’s lowest monthly level so far this year.
But last month’s mark was construction’s best August level since 2007, when it hit 5.3%. The BLS rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal differences.
One negative note was that architectural and engineering services, a separate category from construction, lost 4,400 jobs in August.
The overall national unemployment rate for August dipped to 5.1% from July’s 5.3%, BLS said, as the economy gained 173,000 jobs. Last month’s rate also was down from the year-earlier 6.1%.