Construction employment continued its upward movement in July as the industry added 19,000 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.

The bureau’s latest monthly look at U.S. employment, released on Aug. 4, also showed that construction’s July jobless rate rose slightly, to 3.9%. from 3.6% in June and the year-earlier 3.5%. 

Construction’s jobs scorecards showed mixed results among industry sectors. Residential specialty trade contractors recorded the best numbers for the month, adding 13,300 jobs. Nonresidential building construction also fared well, gaining 10,500.

But nonresidential specialty trade contractors lost 2,100 jobs in the month; another nonresidential segment, heavy and civil construction, posted an increase of only 2,200.

Further complicating the picture, residential building construction showed the largest July decline, shedding 5,500 jobs.

Construction’s employment in July totaled 7,971,000, up by 198,000, or 2.5% from the year-earlier figure. The BLS jobs numbers are preliminary and often are revised in succeeding months. The bureau's jobs figures also are adjusted for seasonal differences; its unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Stephen E. Sandherr, Associated General Contractors of America chief executive officer, said in a statement, “The construction industry continues to add workers at a steady clip as demand for many types of construction remains strong.”

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said in a statement that the economy is slowing but there still are pressures on wages. “Accordingly,” Basu said, "the war on excess inflation has not yet been won, which means that the Federal Reserve may not be done raising rates.”

Nevertheless, he said, nonresidential construction contractors continue to add jobs. 

Basu said that “weakness in several commercial real estate segments may help explain job losses among nonresidential contractors last month.”

Sandherr noted that average hourly wages for construction production and nonsupervisory employees climbed in July by 5.8%, to $34.24, year over year. That compares with a 4.8% increase for all private industry. 

Overall, the U.S. economy gained 187,000 jobs in July and the unemployment rate continued to hover in a narrow range, declining to 3.5% in July from 3.6% in June and holding steady with the July 2022 rate.