Construction added 25,000 jobs in May and the industry’s unemployment rate improved, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.
The bureau’s latest monthly employment report, released on June 1, showed that construction’s jobless rate fell to 4.4% last month, from April’s 6.5% and also was down from the May 2017 rate of 5.3%.
The BLS unemployment rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal differences.
All but one construction market segment posted jobs gains in May, led by the 14,800 pickup among nonresidential specialty trade contractors.
Residential specialty trade contractors added 5,700 jobs and heavy-civil engineering construction gained 5,000 jobs last month. Residential building firms saw their total workforce expand by 4,600.
Nonresidential building was the only sector recording a downturn, losing 4,400 positions, BLS reported.
Architectural and engineering services, which BLS separates from the construction industry, gained 800,000 jobs.
Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement that the BLS May update "is rendered all the more impressive given the difficulty so many firms, including construction firms, report filling available jobs."
Basu does see "reasons for concern," however, including inflationary pressure. He added, "Recent decisions regarding tariffs on steel and aluminum are likely to further exacerbate these pressures."
The Associated General Contractors of America noted that construction employment was up by 286,000, or 4.1%, for the 12 months ended in May and hourly earnings rose 3.2%, year over year, to $29.65.
AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr said in a statement, "Construction workers and their employers are clearly benefiting from steps Congress and the administration are taking to boost economic demand." In particular, AGC cites tax-cut legislation, easing of regulations and higher spending on infrastructure.
Overall, the U.S. economy gained 223,000 jobs in May, BLS said. The national unemployment rate edged down to 3.8% from April’s 3.9% and was improved from the year-earlier 4.3%.