Construction employment surges to 10-year high in February
- After a strong start to the year, construction continues to see rising employment, as the industry added 58,000 jobs in February — the strongest recorded level since March 2007 — the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. The month's total construction employment of 6,881,000 represented a 219,000 — 3.3% — increase from February 2016.
- Within the industry, the residential sector added 18,900 positions last month, while nonresidential (including the heavy civil and engineering sectors) contributed to two-thirds of the month's figures, adding 38,500 jobs.
- The first two months of 2017 saw the same number of jobs created as the first nine months of 2016, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors.
Construction firms are likely to see an uptick in projects in the coming months, according to ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. And while the ongoing labor shortage and tight regulatory climate continue to be a drag on projects, a spike in employment could signal a much-needed boost to industry productivity.
With the Trump administration's preliminary plans for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan on the table, firms are likely expanding their staffs to prepare for an uptick in project opportunities in the coming months and years. While architecture billings reported a down month in January, economists say the foundation for a strong market is in place.
Basu noted the numbers could partially be attributed to the month's mild weather, leading to fewer delays in project completions. Weather, however, wasn't the only factor contributing to February's high postings — as data indicates that the industry is seeing an influx of workers to help meet booming demand.
A January survey released by the Association of General Contractors found that nearly 75% of the 1,281 participating contractors planned to boost their headcounts in 2017. Still, an equivalent percentage noted that they had experienced difficulties in filling both hourly and salaried positions.
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