Construction's unemployment rate edged upward in September, to 17.2% from August's 17.0%, as the industry lost 21,000 jobs last month.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest monthly employment report, released on Oct. 8, also showed that construction's unemployment rate last month was slightly worse than the September 2009 rate of 17.1%.
Construction's jobless rate this year has generally improved month-to-month since February, before worsening in September.
But looking at the numbers from another angle, the industry's 2010 unemployment rates have been higher than the comparable 2009 figures in every month except July.
Ken Simonson, the Associated General Contractors' chief economist, said that construction's current 5.6-million-person workforce is only marginally larger than in August 1996, when it was 5.59 million.
Simonson said, "It has taken less than four years to erase a decade's worth of job gains as the industry suffers from declining private, state and local construction demand,"
The industry's September jobless rate remained the worst among major economic sectors. Leisure and hospitality was next-highest, at 11.4%, followed by agriculture, at 11.1%.
Among construction segments, specialty trade contractors lost 20,900 jobs in September, while firms involved in construction of buildings gained 500 positions, BLS said.
Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors' chief economist, says that nonresidential specialty trade contractors "took the brunt of the [job] losses." He added, "As a group, this category had the worst performance since February."
Heavy and civil construction showed a loss of 200 jobs.
Over all, BLS reported, the nation's jobless rate held at 9.6% for September, the same as August's mark. The private sector added 64,000 jobs but that gain was more than offset by a 159,000 decline in government jobs.
The public-sector losses included 77,000 temporary federal Census positions and 76,000 jobs in local governments.
|Note: Rates are not seasonally adjusted. |
Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics