In an encouraging sign for construction, the industry’s jobless rate dipped in September, to 13.3%, from the August level of 13.5%, the Labor Dept.'s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Last month's mark also was much improved from the 17.2% rate in September 2010.

Moreover, construction gained 26,000 jobs last month, seasonally adjusted, according to the latest monthly BLS unemployment report, released on Oct. 7.

September was the 12th-straight month in which construction's unemployment rate improved over year-earlier figures.

On the down side, however, construction’s unemployment rate remained the worst among U.S. industries. And industry officials feared that the positive September results might not be sustained if federal infrastructure programs are cut further and the economy doesn’t strengthen.

The September increase in construction jobs came in the industry's non-residential segments, BLS noted.

Buildings construction positions rose by 15,000, the heavy-civil sector picked up 6,200 and non-residential specialty trade contractors added 10,700.

The only category to post a decline was residential specialty trades, which lost 5,600 positions.

Architectural and engineering services employment, a leading indicator for the construction market, also showed an increase in September, with a gain of 2,700 jobs.