- The construction industry added 84,000 net new jobs in October, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the last six months, the industry added 789,000 jobs, recovering 73% of the jobs lost during earlier stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Nonresidential construction employment added 59,700 jobs on net in October. All three nonresidential subcategories experienced increases; the largest was registered among nonresidential specialty trade contractors, which added 27,500 positions on net. Heavy and civil engineering added 18,800 jobs while other types of nonresidential building added 13,400.
- The construction unemployment rate was 6.8% in October, up 2.8 percentage points from the same time last year, but down from 7.1% a month earlier. Unemployment across all industries declined from 7.9% in September to 6.9% last month.
The industry recorded employment gains despite facing many negative conditions, including tighter lending, negatively impacted state and local government finances and deteriorating commercial real estate fundamentals, said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu in the statement.
Nevertheless, there is still much ground to be made up, Basu said, noting that a year ago, nonresidential construction employed nearly 208,000 more people than it does now. The sector has lost nearly 5% of its jobs compared to one year ago, while ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator shows the average contractor has 1.2 fewer months of backlog than it did one year ago.
A deeper look at the BLS data shows that the construction employment picture is highly variable across the country. Some states such as Vermont and Iowa have suffered large losses in jobs while others like South Dakota and Utah have added jobs since last year.
The states with the biggest year-over-year percentage drop in construction employment are:
|State||Percent change in
ABC analysis of BLS data.
The states with the biggest percentage gains in construction employment compared to last year at this time are:
|State||Percent change in
ABC analysis of BLS data. Asterisk indicates states that include mining and logging jobs.
While October’s national employment report was heartening, contractors should remain on guard, said Basu. Another recession is possible as COVID-19 rages across the nation.
"State-mandated economic lockdowns are likely to become more of a factor during the weeks ahead," he said. "That would result in an interruption to the robust recovery that has been building since May, and would delay the arrival of nonresidential construction’s complete recovery.”