The Construction Workers Have Left the Building

(Slate) - Where are all those hundreds of thousands of construction workers going? The short answer is: somewhere else.

Since the beginning of the year, something extraordinary has happened in one of the sectors hardest hit by the recession: Unemployment has dropped by more than a third among construction workers. In January, the unemployment rate in construction was a whopping 22.5 percent. By July, it had fallen to 13.6 percent. Few other major employment sectors have seen such a dramatic change, let alone a positive one, in the same time period.

Those statistics might seem astonishing given the stubbornly high unemployment rate and anemic pace of jobs growth in the last year or two. (What the White House - or, more to the point, America's jobless workers - wouldn't give to see the broader unemployment rate drop that sharply!) Alas, the statistics are somewhat misleading. There has been no real recovery in construction. The falling unemployment rate is a sign of a still-ailing industry, not a newly thriving one.

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