The construction industry’s unemployment rate climbed in October, to 9% from September’s 8.5%, the Labor Dept.'s Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported. But last month's mark was an improvement over the 11.4% recorded for October 2012.
The BLS report, released on Nov. 8, also shows that construction gained 11,000 jobs in October and that all sectors of the industry added to their workforces.
Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, noted that October marked the fifth-straight month of construction job increases, pushing the industry's total employment to more than 5.8 million, the highest level since August 2009.
But AGC notes that the current total is still far below construction's pre-recession totals. The industry's recent peaks were more than 7.7 million jobs, a level achieved in spring and summer 2006 and early 2007.
The strongest construction jobs results came in the residential building and nonresidential specialty trade contractors segments, each of which added 4,500 positions. Heavy and civil engineering construction had the smallest gain, adding just 200 jobs.
Architectural and engineering services, which BLS categorizes separately from construction, added 5,000 jobs in October.
Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said, "Every major segment of nonresidential construction exhibited job growth for a second consecutive month, a positive indication after the sector posted consecutive losses for the five previous months."
Basu anticipates that nonresidential construction spending will show "high single-digit growth" in 2014, but cautions that the uncertainty over early-2014 deadlines for spending and debt-limit legislation in Congress could have a dampening effect on the nonresidential sector.
The latest BLS monthly report covered the federal government's 16-day partial shutdown in the first half of October, but AGC's Simonson said that event "did not appear to have undermined construction job growth in the short term, probably because it did not significantly impact projects that were already under way."
BLS also reported that the overall national jobless rate edged up to 7.3% last month, from 7.2% in September, as the economy added a total of 204,000 jobs.