The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, February 22, 2019

Construction in 2019 gets up on the right side of the bed

By The Building Tradesman

January 2019 employment in the U.S. construction industry picked up where a good 2018 left off, rising 52,000 jobs last month. The increase marks a rise of 338,000 jobs (+4.7 percent) over the employment numbers from last January.

"There has been no letup in demand for construction projects—or workers," said Ken Simonson, the chief economist for the Associated General Contractors, on Feb. 1. "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."

U.S. construction employment totaled 7,464,000 in January, the most since January 2008. A report on construction spending—delayed a month by the partial government shutdown—showed an increase of 0.8 percent from October to November and 4.5 percent year-to-date for the first 11 months of 2018 combined compared to the same period in 2017. 

Year-to-date spending rose by 3.9 percent for residential construction, 3.5 percent for private nonresidential construction and 7.0 percent for public construction.

Average weekly hours in the industry increased to 39.9 hours in January, the highest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics series began in 2006, the AGC said.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for jobseekers with construction experience in January was 6.4 percent, down from 7.3 percent in January 2018. The number of such workers fell to 638,000 from 707,000 a year earlier. Both figures were the lowest for January since those series began in 2000.