Construction’s November unemployment rate rose from October’s level but was markedly better than the year-earlier figure, as the industry gained 20,000 jobs, the Labor Dept. reported.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly employment analysis, released on Dec. 5, showed that construction’s jobless rate increased to 7.5% in November, from October’s 6.4%.
But last month’s rate improved from the November 2013 mark of 8.6%, and was the industry's lowest November number in seven years, BLS reported.
Weather may be a factor behind the month-to-month upturn in construction’s jobless rate. The BLS rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations, and construction’s unemployment rate tends to climb in late fall and winter months when the volume of work slows.
Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said that because of construction's typical seasonality, its November unemployment rate "should not be seen as a cause for concern."
Residential construction accounted for most of the industry’s job growth in November, picking up 16,700 positions. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors also added 7,300 jobs.
Those gains more than offset losses in the nonresidential-buildings segment, which shed 2,400, and heavy and civil engineering construction, whose workforce declined by 1,300.
Architectural and engineering services, a separate BLS category, picked up 4,500 jobs in November.
Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, observed that construction's 6.1-million total employment last month was the highest since April 2009 and was up 3.6% over the previous 12-month period.
Simonson said, "November was another good month overall for construction workers and businesses." But he added that "the recent declines in public works and nonresidential building construction employment may indicate some underlying weakness in the constuction market."
ABC's Basu said higher stock prices, reduced energy costs and other factors have helped drive GDP closer to a sustainted 3% growth rate. He added, "For the most part, this represents good news for the nonresidential construction industrry."
The overall November national jobless rate was 5.8%, the same as October’s, as the economy added 321,000 jobs during the month.