Construction’s workforce continued to expand in November, adding 31,000 jobs during the month, the Labor Dept.’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.

The bureau’s latest report on the nation’s employment picture, released Dec. 3, showed that the jobs gains occurred across the board, including residential and nonresidential categories.

Construction’s November unemployment rate rose to 4.7%, though, from October’s 4.0%. But the industry’s jobless rate fell sharply compared to the year-earlier level of 7.3%.

The bureau’s unemployment rates are not adjusted for seasonal variations. Construction’s jobless rate tends to climb as weather turns colder and the pace of work slows in much of the country.

On the other hand, the BLS figures on monthly job gains are seasonally adjusted and those numbers were trending upward in all sectors.

Heavy and civil engineering construction, which includes infrastructure work, topped the list, adding 8,100 jobs in November.  Nonresidential specialty trade contractors gained 6,800 new workers, and nonresidential building was up by 5,900 positions.

On the residential construction side, specialty trade firms added 6,200 jobs and building contractors added 4,100.

Construction economists' comments

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement, "For the most part, contractors indicate that they remain busy with sufficiently healthy backlog."

He added, "Accordingly, hiring remains brisk."

Noting that more public-sector projects are expected to get under way in coming months, Basu added, "In short, nonresidential construction employment growth is poised for ongoing expansion in 2022."

Ken Simonson, the Associated General Contractors of America's chief economist, said in a statement, "It is heartening to see steady job growth across all construction segments following a long period during which only residential contractors were adding employees."

Simonson added, "But record job openings show the industry needs still more workers as more types of nonresidential projects get started." He said there were 333,000 construction job openings in September, the most recent month for which that information is available.

AGC officials said that worker shortages probably will worsen, as the increased funding in the recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is put to use.

Construction employment totaled 7,533,000 in November, up 180,000, or 2.4%, from the year earlier level, BLS reported.

Despite November's jobs increase, the industry’s total workforce still remained 1.5% below its pre-pandemic peak of 7,648,000, recorded in February 2020.

Overall, BLS reported that the U.S. economy added 210,000 jobs in November, but that was well below the 504,600 monthly gain in October.

However, the November national unemployment rate declined to 4.2% from October’s 4.6%.