Construction’s unemployment rate continued its year-over-year improvement, dropping in December to 7.5% from the year-earlier 8.3% as the industry added 45,000 jobs during the month.
But the BLS report, released on Jan. 8, also showed that last month’s construction jobless rate worsened from November’s 6.2% as the winter slowdown in building activity began.
BLS doesn’t adjust the unemployment rates for seasonal swings. Construction’s work volume tends to decline and its unemployment level rise in winter months.
The industry’s strong December jobs gains were led by specialty trade contractors, which picked up 29,400 positions. Buildings construction added 10,100 and the heavy-civil engineering sector’s workforce expanded by 4,800.
In addition, architectural and engineering services, a separate BLS industry category, added 4,800 jobs in December, more than making up for its decline of 2,900 in November.
The BLS jobs figures are preliminary.
Ken Simonson, the Associated General Contractors of America’s chief economist, said in a statement, “Based on what most contractors have reported, the robust hiring the industry has experienced during the past few months should continue through 2016.”
An AGC survey released Jan. 5 showed that 71% of firms that responded plan to hire more workers this year.
Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors’ chief economist, calls the December construction numbers “a positive sign.”
Basu doesn’t view the construction unemployment rate’s 1.3-percentage-point rise from November as a cause for concern. he said in a statement that the increase is “an indication that more people…want to participate in what is presently one of the economy’s more dynamic segments.”
Over all, the economy added 292,000 jobs in December and the national unemployment rate was 5%, the same as November’s and October’s levels, BLS reported.