Construction’s August unemployment rate edged up from July’s level, but still was markedly improved from the August 2013 rate, as the industry added 20,000 jobs, the Labor Dept. has reported.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest monthly employment status report, released on Sept. 5, showed that construction jobless rate rose to 7.7% in August, from July’s 7.5%, but was down from the year-earlier level of 9.1%.

The rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations.

BLS data also indicated that all construction sectors recorded jobs increases in August. The specialty trade contractors segment was the strongest, with a gain of 11,500. Buildings construction added 7,200.

Heavy and civil engineering construction posted an increase of just 900 positions last month.

Architectural and engineering services, a separate BLS category, showed a gain of 2,700 jobs.

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said that although the August construction jobless rate increased from the July figure, many executives in the industry "complain about a lack of available skilled workers" for their firms.

Basu added, "The industry has a high demand for job seekers and increasing demand for construction workers implies that many of these job seekers will find employment."

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, noted that construction's total employment has climbed by 232,000, or 4%, for the 12 months ended Aug. 31—the largest 12-month pickup since 2006.

Simonson said that "the fact that the number of unemployed construction workers is now at the lowest August level since 2007 means more contractors may soon have trouble filling key position."

AGC said a recently released survey, which it carried out with SmartBrief, showed that two-thirds of responding contractors reported that they are having difficulty getting qualified workers.

The overall U.S. unemployment rate improved slightly in August, to 6.1%, compared with July’s 6.2%, as the economy added 142,000 jobs, according to the BLS report.

Story corrected on Sept. 8 to read "August 2013" in first paragraph.


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