Buoyed by continued gains among nonresidential specialty trade contractors, overall construction employment increased by 13,000 jobs during June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The industry's unemployment rate decreased slightly, to 3.7%, from May's 3.8% rate.
One industry economist believes that the latest data shows that contractors will continue to be challenged to find enough workers to staff current and future projects.
“With industry unemployment at a record low for June and openings at an all-time high for May, it is clear contractors can’t fill all the positions they would like to,” Ken Simonson, chief economist for Associated General Contractors of America, said in a statement.
As was the case in May, specialty trade contractors provided the greatest job gains in June. The sector added 11,800 positions overall during the month, with 11,400 new jobs coming from the nonresidential sector, while residential contractors added roughly 400.
Also showing gains during June was the heavy and civil engineering construction category, which added 4,500 jobs overall.
While all construction sectors reported jobs gains in May, that was not the case in June. According to BLS, overall employment in the building construction sector declined by an estimated 3,900 jobs. That overall decline was the result of a loss of 4,500 jobs in the residential construction sector, combined with a modest gain of 600 positions among nonresidential building contractors.
“Although nonresidential contractors were able to add employees in June, the industry needs more as demand for projects is outpacing the supply of workers,” added AGC's Simonson.
The Associated Builders and Contractors noted that, altogether, nonresidential construction employment increased by 16,500 positions overall as a result of gains in the nonresidential specialty trade, nonresidential building and heavy and civil engineering construction sectors.
Calling the June employment report "a welcome respite from a sea of bad economic news,” ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu noted in a statement that “inflation has induced many people back into the labor market in order to offset elevated costs for essentials and luxuries alike."
Still, Basu added, "This does nothing, however, to dim the risk of recession," with the Federal Reserve likely to continue increasing interest rates.
"Higher borrowing costs working in conjunction with lofty materials prices and rapidly rising worker compensation mean that the threat of significant numbers of project postponements and cancellations remains firmly in place,” he said.
Construction's 3.7% unemployment rate reported for June 2022 is less than half that of the 7.5% rate reported back in June 2021.
Overall, the U.S. economy added 372,000 jobs in June, with the unemployment rate staying steady at 3.6%.