Construction’s unemployment rate fell in May to 10.8%, its lowest level since October 2008 and an improvement over April’s 13.2%, as the industry added 7,000 jobs last month.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest monthly employment snapshot, released on June 7, also states that construction’s May jobless rate was down from the May 2012 figure of 14.2%.
The BLS unemployment rates are not adjusted for seasonal differences.
BLS said construction’s job gains last month came in nearly all industry segments, paced by the residential special trade contractors sector, which picked up 4,600 jobs.
The heavy-civil engineering construction sector also posted positive results, adding 3,100 jobs. Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said, “Healthy job performance in this segment is often considered a leading indicator for a number of other construction segments.”
The exception to the upward trends was nonresidential building, which lost 2,600 positions in May. Basu said the overall U.S. growth in jobs “has apparently been inadequate to foment robust nonresidential construction recovery.”
Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, said, “Although the monthly job gain in May was modest, both residential and nonresidential construction have been adding workers at roughly double the rate of the overall economy in the past year.”
Simonson said the rise in construction jobs over the past year plus the departures of some unemployed former construction workers from the industry “may lead abruptly to worker shortages in parts of the industry, such as welders and pipefitters."
Architectural and engineering services, which BLS lists separately from its construction category, gained 4,900 jobs in May.
Over all, BLS reported, the U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in May and the unemployment rate increased to 7.6% from April’s 7.5%.