The construction industry added 19,000 jobs in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. November's total construction employment of 6,704,000 marked the highest level since November 2008.
Within the industry, the residential sector added 19,600 positions last month, while the nonresidential sector added 1,100 jobs. The heavy civil and engineering sector lost 2,100 positions in November.
- Year-over-year construction employment was 2.4% higher last month than in November 2015. Average hourly earnings in construction rose 2.4% in the past year to $28.28 in November, but dipped slightly from the $28.38 average in October.
The Associated General Contractors pointed to the job losses in the heavy civil and engineering sector as a sign that infrastructure companies are struggling to find jobs and are therefore reducing their staffs.
"This report shows the construction industry has the capacity to handle additional infrastructure work even as private nonresidential projects, apartments and homebuilding continue to go up," AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson said in a release.
While some critics have expressed concern that a significant boost in infrastructure spending — like the $1 trillion plan proposed by President-elect Donald Trump — would exacerbate the construction labor shortage, AGC officials said the public sector still has room for expansion.
While the private sector has been experiencing crippling labor shortages amid booming demand, many contractors on government-funded projects are searching more for work than for workers.
Residential builders, unlike infrastructure firms, are already seeing significant job growth and are expecting activity to pick up in 2017 as the housing market continues its recovery.