Construction employers added 39,000 jobs in January and 308,000 over the past year, reaching the highest employment total since February 2009, as the sector's unemployment rate fell to 9.8 percent, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the job gains come as most construction firms report plans to expand headcount this year, but worry about growing shortages of qualified workers.
Construction employment totaled 6,314,000 in January, the highest level in nearly six years, with a 12-month gain of 308,000 jobs or 5.1 percent, Simonson noted. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added a combined 20,100 employees since December and 162,400 (7.2 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential contractors-building, specialty trade, and heavy and civil engineering construction firms-hired a net of 18,600 workers for the month and 145,600 (3.9 percent) since January 2014.
The number of workers who said they looked for work in the past month and had last worked in construction fell from 1,045,000 a year earlier to 811,000-the lowest January mark since January 2000. Although winter conditions typically result in a high January unemployment rate for construction, the 9.8 percent unemployment rate for these workers was the lowest January rate since January 2007 and represented a steep drop from a year earlier, when the rate was 12.3 percent.