Construction’s unemployment rate declined to 8.5 percent in January, a 17-year low, as firms added 18,000 workers, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
The number of construction jobs added in January was down compared to the last three months of 2015, AGC said, and could reflect either a slowdown in nonresidential construction activity or an inability of contractors to find qualified workers.
“While the construction industry continues to add jobs, the January figures mark a significant decline in the rate of growth compared to the end of last year,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “It will take a few months to evaluate whether firms are running out of people to hire or if broader economic uncertainty is leading to a decline in demand for many types of construction services.”
Construction employment totaled 6,615,000 in January, the most since December 2008, and is up by 264,000 jobs compared to a year ago, a 4.2 percent increase. Residential construction increased by 20,100 in January and by 149,500, or 6.2 percent, compared to a year ago. Nonresidential construction employment declined by 2,300 jobs for the month but was up 115,000 jobs compared to last January, a 2.9 percent increase.
The number of unemployed jobseekers in January who last worked in construction totaled 729,000. The unemployment rate for such workers was 8.5 percent. Both the number and the rate were the lowest January figures since the series were introduced in 2000.