- The U.S. construction sector added 8,000 jobs in September, marking a strong showing for the construction industry despite a lackluster job report for the overall national economy, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors.
- Nationally, the unemployment rate held steady at 5.1%, but that was due in part to a fall in the labor participation rate to 62.4%, the lowest since September 1977, according to the ABC. In addition, the country added only 142,000 nonfarm jobs in September, an unexpectedly low figure.
- Even though construction spending continues to steadily climb, the AGC reports the shortage of skilled workers held the industry back from adding even more positions.
Anirban Basu, chief economist for the ABC, said in a statement that construction was one of the "few bright spots" in the September job report, with residential and nonresidential construction "two of the nation’s five leading growth segments."
"The industry’s unemployment rate is down 1.5 percentage points from September 2014 and is essentially at its lowest point in eight years. There are 125,000 fewer unemployed construction workers than there were one year ago, and construction employment is up by 205,000 positions on a year-over-year basis, one of the best performances of any industry in both absolute and percentage terms," Basu said.
The AGC, in its response to the most recent job numbers, continues to push the conversation toward the ongoing problem of construction labor shortages, particularly in light of the low hiring numbers compared to rising construction spending.
"Contractors would love to hire more workers," AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson said, "but there aren’t enough qualified craft workers or supervisors available."
In August, the AGC reported that 86% of contractors had difficulty in finding qualified hourly and salaried workers, which, according to the organization, was causing a lag in job gains. In response, the AGC has been urging federal, state and local agencies to take action to boost the numbers of those entering the construction industry workforce via its Workforce Development Plan, which focuses on encouraging younger people to choose careers in construction.