Arlington, VA – Construction employment increased by 13,000 jobs in June and by 282,000 jobs over the past year, reaching a 10-year high, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said many construction firms appear to be more willing to hire amid lower tax rates and a more favorable business environment, but caution that trade fights and labor shortages pose risks to future growth.
Construction employment totaled 7,222,000 in June, the highest level since May 2008 and a gain of 4.1 percent over the past 12 months. The economist pointed out that the year-over-year growth rate in industry jobs was more than double the 1.6 percent rise in total nonfarm payroll employment.
Hourly earnings in the industry averaged $29.71 in June, an increase of 2.9 percent from a year earlier. That put average hourly earnings in construction 10.1 percent higher than the average for all nonfarm private-sector jobs, which rose 2.7 percent in the past year, to $26.98, Simonson added.
The unemployment for workers with construction experience in June was 4.7 percent, virtually unchanged from the levels in June 2017 (4.5 percent) and June 2016 (4.6 percent)—a sign that the industry is operating at essentially full employment, Simonson said.
Association officials observed that construction employers appear more eager to hire amid lower taxes and increased efforts to reduce needless or ineffective regulatory burdens. They added that recent increased infrastructure investments at the federal and state level are also helping boost construction employment. But they cautioned that workforce shortages, tariffs and a looming trade war could undermine future construction employment gains.