Construction sees best month of job growth since March 2007
- The construction industry had its strongest month of job growth since March 2007 in February, adding 61,000 net new jobs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Jobs were up 254,000 year-over-year.
- The nonresidential sector increased by 35,400 jobs for the month, marking a significant gain from January's 21,000 net new roles. Nonresidential specialty trades accounted for the strongest growth, notching19,000 jobs in February.
- Construction accounted for one-fifth of net new job creation in the U.S. last month, Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu noted in a statement from the organization. Basu said he expects stable construction spending and a broad backlog for the foreseeable future, but warned of possible issues arising from inflation.
Though construction job growth this year has so far followed analyst predictions of a continued construction boom, industry employment could hit a roadblock with President Donald Trump's decision this week to sign off on tariffs affecting steel and aluminum imports.
The move, which adds a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum tariffs from every country except Mexico and Canada, could cost the industry nearly 30,000 jobs, according to a study by The Trade Partnership. The report found that, across industries, high-skilled roles would account for one-third of estimated job losses.
Industry groups have come out in opposition to the president's orders, saying the tariffs would cause "significant harm" and could "wreck the budgets" for numerous projects. Stakeholders have cautioned that such tariffs run the risk of triggering a trade war and reducing demand for construction across a variety of sectors. According to a release, the Associated General Contractors of America is working with the administration and Congress to reconsider the tariffs and refocus on an infrastructure plan that would benefit U.S. steel and aluminum.
While the impact of the new tariffs remains to be seen, strong reports in construction spending and forecasts for industry growth point to continued expansion in employment. According to Dodge Data & Analytics, this year's total starts are expected to climb to $765 billion — a 3% rise from 2017. The infrastructure and utility sectors are expected to drive this year's prolonged boom, particularly with Trump's $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan still on the table.
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