Construction’s unemployment rate continued to fall in May, reaching its lowest monthly level in 19 years, but the industry posted a less-than-robust gain of 4,000 jobs during the month, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.
The bureau’s latest monthly report n the U.S employment picture, released on June 7, shows that construction’s jobless rate declined to 3.2% in May from April’s 4.7%. It is the lowest mark since the current BLS data series began in 2000, the Associated General Contractors of America noted. Last month's rate also improved from the May 2018 level of 4.4%.
The industry again added jobs, but the 4,000 pickup was well below April’s gain, which BLS revised downward to 30,000 from the preliminary increase of 33,000.
Looking at the longer-range picture, construction's workforce has expanded by 215,000 jobs in the 12 months ended on May 31, an increase of 3%.
Among construction sectors, specialty trade contractors had a strong month in May, adding 12,900 jobs. But the heavy and civil engineering segment, which reflects infrastructure work, shed 9,400 positions.
Architectural and engineering services, a separate BLS category, picked up 3,600 jobs during the month.
Construction earnings stood $30.68 per hour in May, up 3.2% from the year-earlier figure, AGC said.
Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, observed that the worldwide economy is "softening."
Basu said that many construction contractors have backlogs through 2020, that softening "suggests emerging weakness in demand for construction services at some point in 20221 or 2022."
Overall, the economy added 75,000 jobs in May, a sharp drop from April’s gain of 224,000 and March’s increase of 153,000.
The national unemployment rate held at 3.6%, the same as April’s level.
Correction on June 10, 2019: April's overall national jobs gain was revised to a preliminary figure of 224,000; March's gain was revised to 153,000.
Also, construction May hourly earnings was corrected to $30.68 per hour.