Construction’s September unemployment rate showed year-over-year improvement but was flat with August’s level as the industry added 8,000 jobs during the month, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says.
The bureau’s latest monthly employment snapshot, released on Oct. 6, showed that construction posted a September jobless rate of 4.7%, down from the September 2016 mark of 5.2% and the same as August’s mark.
The rates are not adjusted for seasonal variations.
The industry’s September gain of 8,000 jobs was weaker than August’s increase of 19,000, which the bureau revised downward from the original estimate of 28,000.
The nonresidential specialty trade contractors segment had the strongest jobs result for September, picking up 8,900. Nonresidential buildings firms added 4,800 and residential specialty trade firms’ combined workforce expanded by 400.
Partly offsetting those increases were declines in the residential buildings sector, which lost 3,900 jobs, and heavy and civil engineering construction, which shed 1,600 positions.
Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said that rebuilding work resulting from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is one possible reason for nonresidential specialty trade contractors' solid September jobs increase, Basu said in a statement that such firms are "among the first to support rebuilding efforts." He added, "These are the people who courageously fix roofs, deal with broken glass and begin the process of helping property owners and businesses restart their enterprises."
Overall, the U.S. economy lost 33,000 jobs in September, which BLS traced to the effects of the two major hurricanes.
The national unemployment rate dipped in September to 4.2%, from August’s 4.4%. Last month’s number also was better than the year-earlier level of 4.9%.
Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, pointed out that total construction industry employment climbed by 184,000, or 2.7% in the 12 months ended Sept. 30. That rate, he noted, was more than twice the 1.2% increase for all U.S. nonfarm payroll employment.
But Simonson added in a statement that "with unemployment so low overall and in construction, many contractors are having trouble filling a variety of hourly craft and salaried openings."