Construction’s November unemployment rate fell sharply from the year-earlier level but rose slightly from October’s mark as the industry added a modest 5,000 jobs during the month, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says.
The latest monthly BLS employment report, released on Dec. 7, shows that construction’s November jobless rate dropped to 3.9% from the November 2017 level of 5.0%. But it was up from October’s 3.6%.
The BLS rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal factors and construction’s unemployment rates tend to increase as weather turns colder in much of the country.
The industry continued to gain jobs in November, adding 5,000 positions, but that was markedly less than the BLS-revised October increase of 24,000 jobs and September’s increase of 15,000.
Among construction segments, residential buildings added 7,100 and residential specialty trade contractors’ workforce expanded by 800. Heavy-civil engineering construction, a barometer of infrastructure work, edged up by 200 positions.
On the down side were nonresidential specialty trade contractors, which shed 2,200 jobs, and nonresidential building, which lost 800, according to BLS data.
Architectural and engineering services, a separate BLS industry category, added 5,700 jobs in November.
Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement that the 3,600-job decrease in nonresidential construction "was minimal and may simply be attributable to wildfires in California and weather.'
Basu added, "Most contractors continue to report healthy backlog and difficulty securing sufficient talent."
But he also said, "Contractors will want to look carefully at leading indicators during the coming months, as the economic forecast is admittedly shrouded in murkiness."
In another closely watched indicator, November construction pay was up by $1.08 an hour, or 3.7%, year over year, to an average of $30.28 an hour. That figure also was up a slight 7¢ per hour from October’s level, BLS reports.
Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, said in a statement, "Demand for construction remains strong and pay is rising faster than in the overall economy."
Like Basu, Simonson said contractors are having an increasingly hard time finding qualified job candidates. He also said that the number of those with construction experience who are looking for jobs decreased to 375,000 in November, the lowest figure since 2000.