Construction’s employment had an upbeat October, as the industry added 11,000 jobs and saw its unemployment rate decline from September’s level and the year-earlier mark.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics latest monthly employment status report, released on Nov. 3, showed that construction’s jobless rate dipped to 4.5% in October from September’s 4.7%. It also improved markedly over the October 2016 level of 5.7%.
Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, observed that last month's 4.5% rate was the lowest October rate since 2000.
The BLS unemployment rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal differences.
Residential construction categories led the industry’s October jobs gains, as residential building added 7,200 and residential specialty trade contractors picked up 6,100.
On the negative side, nonresidential building lost 3,300 positions and heavy and civil engineering construction shed 3,000 during the month.
Architectural and engineering services, which BLS lists separately from construction, gained 3,800 jobs in October.
AGC's Simonson said, "While some of the job gains may reflect hurricane recovery work in Texas and Florida, recent spending and regional employment data show the job growth spans both residential and nonresidential projects and is occurring in most states."
Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said storm-related project delays are one possible reason for the October nonresidential construction jobs downturn. But Basu added that "one cannot fully discount the notion that demand for human capital among nonresidential construction firms has slipped a bit given recent industry spending data that have been trending lower ot late."
Overall the economy added 261,000 jobs last month and the national unemployment rate improved slightly, to 4.1% from September’s 4.2%. It also was down from the year-earlier 4.8%.