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Construction employment is growing in the US, but the lack of skilled workers is an issue

Construction employment increased by 52,000 jobs in January and by 338,000 jobs over the past year, according to analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Construction employment totalled 7,464,000 in January 2019, the highest amount since January 2008.

A report on construction spending—delayed a month by the partial government shutdown—showed an increase of 0.8% from October to November and 4.5% year-to-date for the first eleven months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

Year-to-date spending rose by 3.9% for residential construction, 3.5% for private non-residential construction and 7% for public construction.

“There has been no let-up in demand for construction projects—or workers,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.

“Even though the industry added employees at more than double the pace of the overall economy in the past year, the average workweek in construction reached an all-time high and unemployment in construction hit a series low, indicating that contractors would hire even more workers if they were available.”

The lack of skilled workers is a problem in the global construction industry, and the survey revealed that 78% of US contractors reported they were having trouble filling some positions. Just under 70% said they expected that hiring would remain difficult or become harder in the future.

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