Construction Employment Rebounds in May

Although job numbers are still below what they were in 2019, new data for the entire construction market shows that overall the sector recovered some of the jobs lost in April.

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Highway and bridge contractors added 4,400 jobs to the payroll between March and April, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total employment increased to 324,300 workers in April, but declined 4 percent from 337,600 jobs in April 2019.

“Although highway and bridge construction work has continued to increase over the last few months and workers are being hired, we would expect more employees on the job at this point in the construction season,” said ARTBA Chief Economist Alison Black.  “The slow pace of hiring is not surprising given the broader economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Detailed information for highway, street and bridge construction employment always lags one month behind the national jobs report. New data for the entire construction market shows that overall, the sector recovered some of the jobs lost in April. Construction firms employed 7.1 million workers in May, compared to 6.5 million in April and 7.3 million in March. But overall employment levels in May were down from 7.5 million workers in May 2019.

The economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May following significant employment declines in March and April. This is due to the resumption of some economic activity following the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic and efforts to contain it. Monthly job losses averaged 6.5 million over the past three months. The unemployment rate fell from 14.7 percent in April to 13.3 percent in May, as the number of unemployed people decreased from 23.078 million to 20.985 million.

Read ARTBA’s June labor report.