The U.S. construction industry added 25,000 net new jobs in May, according to Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This follows a 21,000 net job gain in April (revised upward from 17,000). The industry has gained 286,000 jobs on a year-over-year basis, the largest such increase since April 2016.
Nonresidential construction employment increased by 15,400 net jobs for the month. Nearly all of that growth came from the nonresidential specialty trade contractor subsector, which added 14,800 net jobs in May. However, the nonresidential building subsector lost 4,400 net jobs in May.
The construction industry unemployment rate plummeted 2.1 percentage points in May and now stands at 4.4 percent, the lowest level since July 2000. The national unemployment rate inched down to 3.8%, its lowest level since April 2000.
“Despite all the noise regarding tariffs, trade wars, Italy, Spain and a myriad of other issues, the U.S. economy continues to move forward with conviction,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Today’s employment report is rendered all the more impressive given the difficulty so many firms, including construction firms, report filling available jobs. The ongoing addition of jobs in nonresidential construction is both an expression of confidence as well as evidence of an industry that continues to benefit from economic growth.
“There are obviously reasons for concern,” said Basu. “Inflationary pressures continue to build, and the Federal Reserve stands ready to further tighten monetary policy. Recent decisions regarding tariffs on steel and aluminum are likely to further exacerbate these pressures.
“Construction firms should monitor their backlog with great care and be searching for any evidence of economic slowing. To date, however, there is little evidence of lost U.S. economic momentum,” said Basu.
To better understand the basis for calculating unemployment rates and what they measure, see the article Background on State Construction Unemployment Rates.