National – Construction employment climbed by 19,000 jobs between February and March, while spending on construction projects rose for the 12th month in a row in February, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government data.
Industry employment totaled 7,628,000 in March, topping the pre-pandemic peak set in February 2020 for the first time. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added 7,600 employees in March, and the sector’s employment exceeded the February 2020 level by 161,000 or 5.4%. Employment increased by 11,300 for the month among nonresidential firms–building, specialty trade, and heavy and civil engineering construction contractors–but remained 157,000 or 3.4% shy of the February 2020 mark.
Despite the recent employment increases, construction job openings at the end of February totaled 364,000, the largest February total, by far, in the 22-year history of that series, Simonson pointed out. Openings exceeded the 342,000 workers hired in February, implying that contractors wanted to hire more than twice as many workers as they were able to, he added.
Construction spending increased for the 12th consecutive month in February to $1.70 trillion, a rise of 0.5% for the month and 11.2% year-over-year. All three major subsectors posted year-over-year increases. Private residential construction rose 1.1% in February and 16.6% over 12 months. Private nonresidential spending edged up 0.2% for the month and 9.7% since February 2021. Public construction rose 1.5% from a year earlier despite slipping 0.4% from January to February.