The construction sector added 6,000 jobs in July — bringing employment in the industry to its highest level since 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.
At the same time, unemployment in the sector dropped to 474,000 — a 14-year low, according to an analysis of government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Overall, the U.S. economy added 215,000 jobs in July, which is an average monthly hiring pace when compared with the rest of the year so far. Unemployment across industries hit a seven-year low of 5.3%, the government reported.
Construction employment totaled 6.3 million in July, yet AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson called the gain — and increases over the past five months — “intermittent and relatively sluggish.”
A dearth of qualified workers in the field continues to stymie job creation, Simonson said, noting it won’t be long before the shortage of skilled labor begins to negatively affect construction spending.
For now, however, construction spending is rising at its fastest rate since 2006, according to the AGC. When coupled with the brisk pace of hiring of architects and engineers, that indicates demand for construction will remain strong, even as contractors continue to struggle to find enough workers to staff upcoming projects.
Simonson blamed a dwindling labor pool on the exodus of older workers; the unreliability of construction jobs in an uncertain economy; and the lack of trade schools pumping new construction employees into the market.