Construction posted strong employment numbers in November, adding 20,000 jobs during the month, and also recording improvements in its unemployment rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported

The bureau’s latest monthly look at the nation’s employment situation, released on Dec. 2, showed that construction gained jobs in every industry segment except residential building construction, which lost 2,600 positions. 

Non-residential building construction added 8,200 jobs and heavy and civil engineering construction gained 5,300, according to BLS preliminary figures. One residential segment, residential specialty trade contractors, reported positive numbers, with an increase of 6,500 positions.

BLS noted that construction has gained an average of 14,000 per month this year, compared with the 2021 monthly average of 16,000.

On a year-over-year basis, the industry’s total workforce grew in November by 248,000, or 3.3%, to 7,750,000, bureau figures show. The Associated General Contractors of America said that total is a record for the industry. 

Architectural and engineering services, which BLS categorizes separately from construction, added 5,600 positions in November.

The BLS jobs figures are adjusted for seasonal variations; its unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Construction’s November jobless rate declined to 3.9% in November from its October level of 4.1% and also improved from the year-earlier 4.7%.

Ken Simonson, AGC's chief economist, said in a statement, "It is heartening that both residential and nonresidential construction firms were able to add employees in November." 

Simonson added, "But the number of job openings continues to outpace hiring, suggesting employers wanted to bring on many more workers than they are able to find."

AGC also pointed to rising average weekly construction wage levels for production and nonsupervisory workers, which climbed 6.1% in November. That topped the 5.8% increase for nonsupervisory workers in all private-sector industries.

Economy Continues to Add Jobs

Overall, the economy gained 263,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7%. 

Looking at the broader picture, Anirban Basu, the Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement, “Despite some recent high-profile layoffs, employers continue to hire aggressively and are increasing compensation in an effort to retain employees in the context of the ‘great resignation.’ ”

But Basu noted that the continued growth in employment is “rather bad news” for those who would like to see interest rates head downward. 

He said, “Those operating in real estate and construction are likely to be discouraged, as these segments are heavily influenced by interest rates and rising borrowing costs make it more difficult to finance the next generation of construction projects.”