Construction continued its upward jobs trend in March, posting its ninth-straight month-to-month increase that pushes industry total employment ahead of its pre-pandemic high mark, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

The latest monthly U.S. workforce report, released on April 1, showed that construction added 19,000 jobs in March, lifting industry employment to nearly 7.63 million.

That total is about 4,000 jobs ahead of February 2020’s level, the pre-pandemic peak.

The BLS figures for March and February are preliminary and could change upward or downward in the next few reports.

All construction segments recorded a jobs increase in March, except for residential building, which shed 2,600 positions for the month. But residential specialty trade contractors showed the best result, gaining 10,200 jobs.

The BLS report also showed that construction’s March unemployment rate improved to 6.0%, from February’s 6.7%. The rate also was down significantly from the year-earlier mark of 8.6%.

Architectural and engineering services, which BLS lists separately from construction, added 5,900 jobs in March

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement, "Given elevated backlog and the expectation that demand for services will remain employment is poised to grow further this year."

Basu added, "With infrastructure spending set to rise and construction workers retiring at a rapid rate, skills shortages are likely to worsen going forward."

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, said in a statement, "Construction is contributing significantly to the expansion of employment and the overall economy. But the sector is facing growing challenges in terms of filling job openings, obtaining materials and keeping up with soaring wages and pricing."

BLS jobs numbers are adjusted for seasonal variations but its unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted. Overall, the economy gained 431,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate ticked downward to 3.6%, from February’s 3.8%, the agency reported.

Story updated on 4/2/2022 with comments from Associated Builders and Contractors and Associated General Contractors of America.