Construction employment continues year-end surge
Construction employment expanded by 46,000 net new jobs in November after adding 34,000 jobs in October (revised upward by 3,000), according to an analysis of the recent employment report from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Nonresidential construction employment increased by 9,300 jobs in November after adding 19,400 jobs during the prior month (revised downward from 20,100). The residential construction sector added 32,100 positions in November after adding just 8,500 jobs in October.
In the aggregate, construction employment increased by 0.7 percent for the month, more than in any other industry. Leisure and hospitality was a distant second at 0.3 percent. The construction industry's unemployment rate was unchanged, holding steady at 6.2 percent in November.
The jobs report clearly shows that various construction segments continue to gain momentum and that contractors will continue to scramble to secure properly trained human capital.
The combination of November's strong performance and the upward revision to job creation estimates for prior months tells us the brief slowdown in economy-wide hiring during the late summer is no longer a source of significant concern and serves as confirmation for the Federal Reserve’s decision to begin raising interest rates.
There are a number of additional implications, however. One is that construction wage pressures will continue to build in 2016. Construction is hardly alone, with a growing roster of industries reporting hiring challenges. It has now become quite common for corporations to shut down operations in smaller communities because of an inability to properly staff offices or other facilities.
One of the most interesting aspects in the report was additional evidence of public sector support for nonresidential construction's recovery. A year ago, the segment's recovery was almost entirely driven by expansion in private funding for construction projects. With state and local government finances improving, the nonresidential construction sector has acquired an additional source of momentum. This is reflected in part in the 4,600 jobs added in the heavy and civil engineering segment in November.
Construction employment for the month and the past year breaks down as follows:
- Nonresidential building construction employment grew by 100 jobs in November and is up by 13,600 jobs or 1.9 percent on a yearly basis.
- Residential building construction employment expanded by 6,300 jobs in November and is up by 26,400 jobs or 3.9 percent on a year-over-year basis.
- Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 9,200 jobs for the month and employment in that category is up by 91,600 jobs or 4.1 percent from the same time one year ago.
- Residential specialty trade contractors added 25,800 net new jobs in November and have added 101,700 jobs or 6.0 percent since November 2014.
- The heavy and civil engineering construction segment added 4,600 jobs in November and is up by 26,000 positions or 2.8 percent on a year-over-year basis.
Anirban Basu is chief economist of Associated Builders and Contractors.