Construction Employment Totals 7.5 Million in January, Highest Since 2008

Feb. 4, 2019

Construction employment increased by 52,000 jobs in January and by 338,000 jobs or 4.7 percent, over the past year. The latest reading on construction spending showed moderate increases in all major categories, according to an analysis by the Associate General Contractors of America.

Association officials recommend strengthening career and technical education programs, and facilitating immigration for workers with construction skills.

"There has been no letup in demand for construction projects—or workers," said Ken Simonson, chief economist. "Even though the industry added employees at more than double the pace of the overall economy in the past year, the average workweek in construction reached an all-time high and unemployment in construction hit a series low, indicating that contractors would hire even more workers if they were available."

Employment totaled 7,464,000 in January, the highest since 2008. An increase of 0.8 percent in construction spending also occurred from October to November. Year-to-date spending rose by 3.9 percent for residential construction, 3.5 percent for private nonresidential construction, and 7.0 percent for public construction.

Average weekly hours increased to 39.9 hours in January, the highest since 2006. The unemployment rate for jobseekers with construction experience in January was 6.4 percent, down from 7.3 percent in January 2018.

In a survey the association released in January, more contractors reported they expect the dollar volume of projects available to bid on to expand than to shrink in 2019 in each of the 13 project categories; 79 percent of firms expect to add employees in 2019.

Source: AGC