US construction jobs highest since 2008

By Helen Wright10 July 2013

Employment in the US construction industry hit its highest level since 2008, according to data for June from the US Bureau of Labor.

The total headcount increased +3.4%, to 5,812,000 year-on-year in June, while hours worked increased +4.7%. Every segment of the industry added jobs, and unemployment fell to 9.8% from 12.8% in June 2012– the first time the rate has fallen below double digits since 2008.

Indeed, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) chief economist Ken Simonson warned that the sector now needed to address a potential shortage of skilled and entry-level workers.

“The number of unemployed workers with construction experience has fallen to low enough levels that firms in a growing number of locations and segments are having trouble finding people with the needed skills,” Mr Simonson said. “Contractors have filled the gap so far by adding to workers’ hours but this solution may be reaching its limit.”

Residential and non-residential contractors added workers in nearly equal numbers. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added 5,200 in June and 90,200 (+4.4%) over 12 months.

Non-residential building, specialty trade, and heavy and civil engineering construction firms grew by 8,400 workers in June and 99,800 (2.8%) from a year earlier. Architectural and engineering services employment also rose +2.6% year-on-year in June.

AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr said, “Now that demand for construction is finally picking up, it is vital to ensure that the industry can find enough qualified workers. There are actions that policy makers should take now before a worker shortage cuts short the industry’s recovery.”

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