Construction’s employment picture is getting a bit brighter, as the industry added 6,000 jobs in June and its jobless rate dipped to 8.2% from May’s 8.6%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly employment report, released on July 3, also showed that construction’s jobless rate last month was markedly better than June 2013’s 9.8% level and was the industry’s best monthly figure in nearly six years.

Construction segments had mixed jobs results last month. Buildings construction was the leader, adding 6,600 jobs. But heavy and civil engineering construction shed 700 positions.

The nonresidential buildings sub-sector added 2,100 jobs but nonresidential specialty trade contractors lost 1,400.

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, said, “The construction industry continues to expand gradually and unevenly.”

Simonson noted that although the industry’s total employment has risen 3.2% since June 2013, to slightly more than 6 million, it still is down by more than 22% from the 2006 peak.

AGC and other construction groups also are worried about the prospect that the Highway Trust Fund will drop into the red later this summer, unless Congress approves a financial infusion.

Over all, BLS reported, the national unemployment rate declined to 6.1% last month, from 6.3% in May and in April, as the economy picked up 288,000 jobs.

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said, “Given that the economy added over 200,000 jobs for the fifth consecutive month in June, there is some optimism about improvement in the second quarter.”
But Basu called the June nonresidential construction jobs numbers “somewhat disappointing.”