Construction employment jumped in January by 44,000 but the industry’s jobless rates for the month were mixed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.

The latest BLS monthly report on the nation’s employment picture, released on Feb. 7, shows that construction’s January jobless rate stood at 5.4%, an increase from December’s 5.0%. But it was an improvement from the year-earlier level of 6.4%.

The bureau’s unemployment rates aren’t adjusted for seasonal differences. Construction’s rates tend to worsen in winter months and improve as spring arrives.

The industry’s 44,000-person gain in its workforce pushed its total employment up by 142,000, or about 2%, for the 12 months ended Jan. 31.

All construction segments posted increases in jobs for January. Specialty trade contractors led the way, with a gain of 35,000.

Heavy and civil engineering construction, a proxy for infrastructure work, recorded an upturn of 6,100.

Buildings construction gained 2,900.

The weakest performance came in the nonresidential building sector, whose workforce edged up by just 500.

But architectural and engineering services, a separate BLS category, shed 1,800 jobs during January.

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America's chief economist, said in a statement, "Some of the [construction] gains may reflect unusually mild winter weather in much of the nation, but contractors are unquestionably optimistic about the year and plan to continue hiring."

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement that "demand for construction worker remains elevated, an indication that contractors expect to remain busy for the foreseeable future."

Construction wages rose last month by 87¢ per hour, or 2.9%, to an average of $31.19, compared with the year-earlier figure.