Construction Industry Adds 38,000 Jobs to Close Out 2018

Construction industry netted positive job gains in every month of 2018 except March

Construction employment Is up by 280,000 year-over-year, an increase of 4%.
Construction employment Is up by 280,000 year-over-year, an increase of 4%.
Associated Builders and Contractors
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According to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, construction employment expanded by 38,000 net new jobs in December. Across the industry, employment is up by 280,000 year-over-year, an increase of 4% percent.

The industry netted positive job increases in 11 out of 12 months in 2018. March was the only month that netted a loss of construction industry jobs. December was the ninth consecutive month where construction industry employment grew. In March, the industry lost a net of 15,000 jobs. However, February saw the highest construction employment growth of the year with a net of 61,000 jobs added for the month. Seven months in 2018 saw construction employment growth over 25,000 net new jobs.

In December, nonresidential employment grew by 35,800 net new positions over the previous month, which means the vast majority of construction job growth emerged from nonresidential categories. Nonresidential gains were split evenly between heavy and civil engineering (+16,300) and nonresidential specialty trade contractors (+16,100).

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Construction industry unemployment rose to 5.1% due to a meaningful increase in labor force participation, yet remains 0.8% lower than at the same time one year ago. And while unemployment rose to 3.9% nationally, wage growth continues to accelerate.

“For several reasons, such as market volatility, a sense of deep concern has set in recently among many economic stakeholders,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “There has also been some evidence of economic slowing, including in America’s manufacturing sector. But today’s employment release reminds us that the U.S. economy continues to expand and that many businesses, including construction firms, remain in growth mode.

“What’s more, a stronger labor market continues to translate into solid wage gains for households, said Basu. “That will help keep the consumer portion of the economy strong, even as slower global economic growth creates more challenges for certain types of businesses. While overall U.S. economic growth is likely to slow in 2019, the economy appears poised to generate enough growth to keep the average contractor busy and to keep backlog relatively stable.

“Importantly, job growth was apparent in both publicly and privately financed nonresidential categories,” said Basu. “Construction spending has been strong in categories ranging from office and lodging to transportation and public safety, and today’s data suggest that firms operating in these and other segments will continue to bulk up on staffing. In the final analysis, today’s employment numbers were impressive and should suppress most discussion regarding the imminence of a broad economic downturn.”