Construction's unemployment rate is still declining, falling to 8.7% in March from 9.5% a year earlier, and held even with February’s level as the industry added 37.000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.
According to the latest BLS employment report, released on April 1, construction’s March rate was the lowest for that month since 2016, when it was 8.5%.
The industry’s jobless rate also has showed year-over-year improvement each month since September2010. BLS rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations and construction’s workforce tends to shrink in winter months.
Construction’s job gains last month spanned all sectors, led by specialty trade contractors, which picked up 18,100.
Heavy-civil engineering added 11,200 and buildings construction expanded by 8,000 positions, BLS reported. Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors' chief economist, said one factor behind the heavy-civil number may be highway projects coming from the FAST Act, the five-year surface transportation bill signed into law in December.
Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America's chief economist, said in a statement, "Compared with the same month a year ago, the industry is adding workers at more than double the rate of the overall economy...." He pointed out that total construction employment has risen 4.7% in the past 12 months, to 6.67 million, the highest level since December 2008.
The overall U.S. unemployment rate edged up in March to 5%, from the 4.9% level recorded in January and February. The economy gained 215,000 jobs during the month, according to BLS,
ABC's Basu said in a statement, "The headline job growth number tells us that construction remains one of the economy's leading economic drivers."