Construction has posted another strong employment month, gaining 21,000 jobs in May, with increases in all but one industry segment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.

BLS said in its latest monthly employment report, released on June 7, that construction's nonresidential specialty trade contractors category showed the largest gain in May, adding 13,000. Residential building employment was up by 3,500, and nonresidential building saw an upturn of 3,000.

Additionlly, heavy and civil engineering construction added a modest 1,000 jobs, while residential specialty trade contractors employment was flat, BLS said.

By another yardstick, construction employment rose by 251,000, or 3.1%, over the 12 months ended in May, BLS data show.

Construction’s jobless rate dropped in May, to 3.9% from April’s 5.2%, but it edged up from the year-earlier level of 3.5%%. The BLS unemployment rates are not adjusted for seasonal differences; the bureau's jobs figures are seasonally adjusted.

May also marked construction's 14th-straight month without an employment decline.

The latest BLS report, which updated earlier preliminary figures, revised April’s jobs figure downward, making what had been an increase for April a flat month.

Workers' pay also was up. Nonsupervisory construction workers’ wages increased 4.3% in May, to $35.45 per hour, according to the report.

Overall, the U.S. economy added 272,000 jobs in May, a surprisingly high number, according to published reports. The national unemployment rate edged up to 4.0%, from April’s 3.9%.

Construction Economists Weigh In

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors' chief economist, said in a statement, “Despite perpetual fears of recession and the dislocating impacts of high borrowing costs, the U.S. nonresidential construction industry is adding jobs rapidly and will continue to, according to ABC’s Contractor Confidence Index."

Basu says that index, released on May 14, “indicates job growth among many industry segments.”

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, said in a statement, “Construction firms have been adding workers at a faster clip than most sectors.”

Even so, Simonson said, contractors continue to have difficulties locating enough skilled workers to fill the openings for a variety of project types, including data centers, manufacturing facilities, renewable energy and infrastructure.