The construction industry saw a jump of 36,000 jobs in January and a sharp year-over-year drop in its unemployment rate but an upturn from December’s rate, the Labor Dept. has reported.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest monthly report on the nation’s unemployment situation, released on Feb. 2, showed that construction’s jobless rate fell to 7.3% last month, from the year-earlier 9.4%. But the rate worsened from December’s 5.9%
The BLS unemployment rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal differences. Construction’s rate tends to climb in winter months as the pace of building slows in parts of the country.
Construction’s solid January jobs gains came in nearly all industry sectors, led by specialty trade contractors, which added 26,300 positions during the month.
Heavy and civil engineering construction picked up 6,300 jobs and residential building gained 5,100.
The only January decline came in nonresidential building, which lost 2,300 jobs. Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement that dip "may be indicative of overbuilding and market saturation in certain markets."
Architectural and engineering services, a separate BLS industry category, added 3,900 positions in January, the bureau reported.
For the 12 months ended in January, construction's workforce expanded by 226,000, or 3.3%, construction contractor groups noted.
Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, observed that construction's increase was more than double the rate for all non-farm sectors. "The outlook remains positive for further growth in the industry," he said. "But finding workers to complete all projects will be a challenge with unemployment so low overall and in construction."
ABC's Basu also predicted further increases in construction jobs. But he noted that "there are some growing concerns," including increases in inflationary worries and trends in construction wages and materials prices that "have emerged as components of a broader inflation story."
Overall, the economy added 200,000 jobs in January. The national unemployment rate held even, month to month, at 4.1%.