Construction employment gains momentum in May
- Construction employment gained momentum in May, increasing by 11,000 net new jobs for the month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
- The month's total construction employment of 6.881 million represented a 191,000-position — or 2.9% — increase from May 2016.
- Within the industry, the residential sector added 7,100 positions last month, while nonresidential (including the heavy civil and engineering sectors) added 4,400 new jobs to the month's figures, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors.
Construction employment is starting to pick back up, following a slight moderation in growth in March and April. Before the two-month cooldown, the industry had boasted its strongest recorded employment level in nearly 10 years in February, and had added nearly 100,000 combined new jobs in the first two months of 2017.
The month's report, though, conveys mixed messages, according to Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. Labor force participation fell to a multimonth low in May — an indication that construction companies will likely continue struggling to fill their workforces.
A deceleration in April's Architecture Billings Index and the month's building permits, however, could mean a future slowdown is on the horizon for the industry's employment figures. While demand for design services stayed positive for a third-straight month in the ABI.
Nonresidential construction could gain steam in the coming months, following optimism from the Trump administration's tentative plans for infrastructure. The administration's recently released 2018 budget proposal looks to set aside $200 billion for transportation projects over the next decade, with the aim of generating $1 trillion in new U.S. infrastructure investments.
Still, President Donald Trump has not yet offered concrete details for the infrastructure program and would ultimately axe some of the programs working to build up the lagging skilled labor force. An Associated General Contractors analysis found that the spending plan would cut 20% from the Labor Department's budget, including a reduction in job training money. The proposal would also reduce funding for state grants for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and apprenticeship grants, in addition to the career and technical education programs seeking to train the next generation of construction workers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation
- Associated Builders and Contractors Jobs Report Offers Reasons for Hope and Concern for Construction Industry
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