Construction added a strong 24,000 jobs in November, but the industry's jobless rate showed a mixed pattern, rising slightly from the October level but improved over the year-earlier mark, the Labor Dept. has reported.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest monthly employment status report, released on Dec. 8, showed that construction's November jobless rate edged up to 5.0% from October's 4.5% but declined from the November 2016 level of 5.7%.
The BLS unemployment rates aren't adjusted for seasonal variations. Construction tends to post its lowest rates in summer and early fall.
November's construction gains came in nearly all categories, led by the specialty-trade-contractor sector, which added 22,600 jobs. The buildings segment gained 8,600.
The only category showing job losses was heavy and civil engineering construction, which shed 7,800 jobs.
Architectural and engineering services, a separate BLS category, recorded a gain of 2,600 jobs.
November's overall national unemployment rate was 4.1%, the same as October's. The economy added 228,000 jobs during the month.
Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement, "With consumer confidence remaining elevated and wage pressures continuing to build, there is little reason to believe that America's consumer-led recovery is about to soften." He added, "This is good news for construction firms, particularly those that specialize in private construction."
But Basu cautioned, "Unfortunately, investment in infrastructure continues to be inadequate in much of the nation, which represents a significant limit to the upside."
Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America's chief economist, noted that total construction employment was up 2.4% over the 12 months ended Nov. 30. He said in a statement, "With unemployment so low overall and in construction, contractors are likely to have increasing trouble filling many types of hourly craft and salaried openings."