Construction’s April unemployment rate plunged to 7.5% from its year-earlier level of 9.5% as the industry added a solid 45,000 jobs, the Labor Dept. has reported.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report on the nation’s employment picture, released on May 8, also showed that construction’s jobless rate was well below March’s 9.4% figure.

The 7.5% rate last month was the industry's best April number since 2006, when the level was 6.9%.

The BLS rates aren’t seasonally adjusted. Construction’s rate tends to improve in the spring as the pace of projects picks up and firms add workers.

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement that construction's gains of 45,000 jobs last month "exceed all expectations."

Basu added, "Construction spending should expand in the coming months as projects that were delayed during winter come to fruition."

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, said that the industry's expansion in employment last month was strong after a dip in March. But he added, "Nevertheless, job growth remains spotty with the nonresidential building sector losing jobs even as other construction sectors expanded."

Specialty trade contractors set the pace last month, adding 41,000 positions. Heavy-civil engineering construction posted a gain of 8,400. But nonresidential building lost 7,800 jobs in April, following a decrease of 1,200 in March.

Robert Murray, Dodge Data & Analytics chief economist, noted that nonresidential building "had shown substantial job growth during the December-February period, averaging 6,900 new positions per month, so the declines in March and April can be viewed as returning employment levels to a more sustainable pace."

Murray also sees "favorable" prospects for nonresidential building jobs, noting that commercial and institutional building starts recorded double-digit increases last year. (ENR is part of Dodge Data & Analytics.)

Architectural and engineering services, a separate BLS category, saw its workforce expand by 3,700 in April.

The overall national unemployment rate edged downward last month, to 5.4% from the March rate of 5.5% as the economy added 223,000 jobs, BLS said.