The construction industry added 48,000 jobs in January, bringing its employment to its highest level since July 2009.

According to the U.S. Labor Dept.’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, which released its monthly unemployment report Feb. 7, despite the particularly severe weather in much of the nation, construction employment totaled 5.92 million in January, an increase of 48,000 from the previous month.
 The gains in the construction in January more than offset a decline of 22,000 in December.

Jobs gains occurred in residential and nonresidential building, which added more than 13,000 and 8,000 respectively, and in non-residential specialty trade construction, which added more than 13,000 jobs. Heavy and civil engineering construction added 10,000 jobs.

For the economy overall, the number of unemployed persons, at 10.2 million, and the unemployment rate, at 6.6%, changed little in January. Since October, the jobless rate has decreased by 0.6 percentage point.

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, says, "Based on data regarding backlog, architectural billings and other leading indicators, the nonresidential construction outlook remains benign."

Ken Simonson, chief economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, says, “Construction demand for workers is likely to accelerate in 2014 as more projects relating to oil and gas, manufacturing, warehouse and hotel construction break ground while demand for residential work—especially apartments—remains strong.”

Simonson adds, “It will be a challenge for contractors in many regions and specialties to find enough employees to perform the work ahead.”