Construction shed 7,000 jobs in June—the industry’s third-straight monthly decline—as falloffs in some nonresidential sectors outpaced gains in other segments, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.
The bureau’s latest report on the nation’s employment situation, released July 2, also shows that the industry’s June unemployment rate rose to 7.5% from May’s 6.7%. But the rate improved significantly from the year-earlier level of 10.1%.
Construction’s total workforce in June was up by 239,000, or 3.3%, year over year, to 7,410,000. But the total lagged behind the February 2020 pre-pandemic peak of 7,648,000.
According to the BLS report, construction’s nonresidential specialty trade contractors segment was the hardest hit, shedding 14,800 jobs in June. Heavy-civil engineering construction, which reflects infrastructure work, posted a decline of 10,900 jobs.
The only nonresidential bright spot was nonresidential building, which recorded an increase of 3,100 positions in June.
Residential construction categories showed jobs growth, with residential specialty trade companies adding 12,700 positions and residential building gaining 2,500.
Industry Cites Worker Shortages
Stephen Sandherr, Associated General Contractors of America's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement, "It is hard for the industry to expand when it can't find qualified workers, key building materials are scarce and the prices for them keep climbing."
Sandherr added, "June's job declines seem less about a lack of demand for projects and a lot more about a lack of supplies to use and workers to employ."
Associated Builders and Contractors also pointed to worker shortages as a reason for the June dip in nonresidential construction jobs.
Anirban Basu, ABC's chief economist, said the job losses and recent announcement of downturns in spending in many nonresidential categories do not square with optimistic results in ABC's latest Construction Confidence Indicator.
"Perhaps a turnaround is right around the corner," Basu said, "but it has failed to emerge thus far."
Architectural and engineering services, which BLS lists separately from construction, added 2,700 jobs during the month.
The jobs numbers for June and May are preliminary figures. BLS often modifies them up or down in succeeding months before they become final. The BLS jobs figures also are adjusted to reflect seasonal variations; the bureau’s unemployment rate numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
Overall, BLS reported that the economy gained 850,000 jobs in June, but the unemployment rate edged up to 5.9% from May’s 5.8%.
The bureau noted that the nation’s June unemployment rate is down markedly from the recent peak of 14.8% in April 2020, but it remains higher than the February 2020 pre-pandemic level of 3.5%.