Construction employment kept on its recent upward path in August, as the industry gained a solid 22,000 jobs with increases in nearly all industry sectors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.

The bureau’s latest monthly report on U.S. employment, released on Sept. 1, also showed that construction’s August unemployment rate was 3.9%, the same as the July and year-earlier figures.

BLS noted that construction’s August increase of 22,000 was "in line" with the industry’s average monthly increase of 17,000 for the past 12 months.

Among construction sectors, the nonresidential specialty trade contractors’ category posted the best monthly jobs results in August, with a gain of 12,100. Heavy and civil engineering construction recorded an increase of 7,100.

The only sector to show a decline was residential specialty contractors, which lost 1,000 positions in the month. 

Over the previous 12 months, total construction employment has climbed by 212,000, or 2.7%.

Construction Pay "Premium"

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, said in a statement that the jobs report indicates that there is continued demand for construction workers.

Simonson added, "The industry is raising pay faster than other sectors amid persistently low unemployment." 

He noted the BLS report shows average hourly earnings for construction production and non-supervisory workers increased by $1.85, or 5.7%, from the year-earlier level. 

Simonson says the construction pay level is a significant wage "premium" over the level for all private-sector production employees.

The BLS jobs figures are adjusted for seasonal differences; its unemployment rate numbers are not seasonally adjusted. 

"Era of the Megaproject"

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors' chief economist, noted the jobs impact of major manufacturing projects, many of which are valued at more than $1 billion, such as semiconductor fabrication facilities, and the increasing spending on infrastructure.

“This is the era of the megaproject,” Basu said in a statement.

But Basu also said, “Given the outsized role of megaprojects in the current economic environment, it is conceivable that the construction industry will face recessionary conditions in certain areas of the country sometime during the next two years, even as activity surges in others.”

Overall, the economy added 187,000 jobs in August. The unemployment rate increased to 3.8%, from July’s 3.5% and from the year-earlier 3.7%.