Construction declined by 1,000 jobs in March but is still up by 282,000 jobs compared to March 2014, as the sector's unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).
AGC officials noted that declining demand for residential and public sector projects offset gains in other areas to contribute to the overall month job losses.
Construction employment totaled 6,344,000 in March, compared to 6,345,000 in February and 6,062,000 in March 2014, Simonson noted.
Building, specialty trade, and heavy and civil engineering construction firms hired a net of 1,100 workers for the month and 145,000 (3.8 percent) since March 2014.
The nonresidential and specialty trade contractors and nonresidential building contractors added a combined 5,000 jobs for the month. But heavy and civil engineering contractors—who typically perform public sector projects like highway construction—lost 3,900 jobs since February.
The employment figures are consistent with February spending data released earlier this month which showed declining investments in residential and public sector construction projects offsetting growing demand for private, nonresidential construction.
AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson noted that the industry’s recovery would continue to suffer if public sector investments continue to decline and the residential market remains weak.
“The threat of funding cuts for needed public infrastructure will continue to impact firms’ ability to add more employees to the payroll,” Simonson added.
AGC officials urged Congress and the Obama administration to find a way to finance and pass needed long-term infrastructure measures to address aging transportation systems.