The construction employment picture continues to brighten, as the industry gained 33,000 jobs in April and its jobless rate improved, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.

The latest BLS monthly employment report, released on May 3, shows that construction’s unemployment rate declined to 4.7% from March’s 5.2% and also was better than the year-earlier rate of 6.5%.

Construction economists pointed out that the 4.7% rate is the industry’s lowest for April since 2000, when the current BLS data series began. BLS jobless rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal differences. The bureau also reported that construction added 256,000 jobs in the 12 months ended in April, a 3.5% increase.

The specialty trade contractors segment accounted for the largest share of construction’s monthly gain, adding 25,200 positions. The heavy-civil engineering construction sector, which reflects infrastructure work, posted an increase of 9,900.

But the numbers weren’t totally upbeat: the residential building workforce dipped by 2,500 in April, BLS reported. Architectural and engineering services, which BLS categorizes separately from construction, also was down in April, losing 1,700 jobs.

Construction workers’ pay rate continues to move upward, averaging $30.60 per hour in April, a 3.1% increase, year over year.

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement, “For construction firms, today’s jobs report is consistent with lengthy backlog, continued expansion in consumer outlays, growing demand for office and other forms of space and steady demand for construction services.”

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors chief economist, said in a statement, “Average pay in construction is more than 10% higher than in the private sector as a whole but job openings in the industry keep climbing.” He pointed out that the private-sector average for April was $27.77 per hour.

Simonson added, “These figures are consistent with the message we keep hearing from contractors that finding qualified workers keeps getting harder.”