The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, January 15, 2016

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman



Slow growth seen for construction

Employment in the U.S. construction industry is expected to continue to grow over the next eight years, but it likely won't reach the employment peak the industry hit in 2006.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry in December employed nearly 6.5 million workers, a number which grew by 259,000 over 12 months prior. But in the next several years the industry is unlikely to hit its peak 7.7 million job mark established in 2006.

"Construction is projected to add 790,400 jobs by 2024. Even with these additional jobs, employment in the construction major sector is not projected to return to the 2006 peak." said a report last month by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"There isn't much demand for construction, especially in residential construction," said Dr. Dale Belman, professor of labor relations and economics at Michigan State University to the Construction Labor Report. "The housing market will never be at the 2006 level. It's going to be a long ways away from it for some time." He added: "They need to make jobs more attractive to bring the workers into them."

Associated General Contractors Chief Economist Ken Simonson said that simple demographics, with fewer people having fewer children, will be a drag on the home-building industry. He said he expects long-term U.S. construction growth, but at a slower pace.

U.S. jobless rate continues to drop

WASHINGTON (PAI)—The U.S. ended 2015 with an unemployment rate of 5 percent in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, as businesses claimed to create a net of 292,000 new jobs that month, and 2.7 million for the year.

December’s jobless rate was unchanged from the month before, but was down from 5.6 percent in December 2014. It was 6.7 percent in December 2013.

The number of jobless declined in December 2015 by 20,000, to 7.904 million, and that’s 800,000 fewer unemployed than at the end of 2014.

But more than a quarter of the jobless (26.5 percent) had been out of work at least six months, meaning they’ve exhausted their unemployment benefits.

Two high-paying sectors, factories (+6,000) and construction (+45,000) added jobs in December, and gained jobs, net, last year. Construction firms employed 6.538 million workers in December, up from 6.275 million the year before.

And in December one of every ten workers (9.9 percent) was unemployed, under-employed or so discouraged they stopped seeking work. That’s down from 11.2 percent at the end of 2014 and 13.1 percent at the end of 2013.

While the economy added jobs, the workers barely added to their paychecks. Average hourly earnings for all private-sector workers ended 2015 at $21.22, up 50 cents from 2014.

Two high-paying sectors, factories (+6,000) and construction (+45,000) added jobs in December, and gained jobs, net, last year. Factories employed 12.331 million workers in December, 30,000 more than a year before. Construction firms employed 6.538 million workers in December, up from 6.275 million the year before.

But many of the construction gains – 93,000 new jobs – came in the last two months of last year, and still left 645,000 construction workers (7.5 percent) unemployed at the end of 2015.

Most of December’s and 2015’s construction gains were at specialty trade contractors and in buildings. There were 618,000 jobless factory workers at the end of 2015 (4 percent).

However, construction union leaders assert the official jobless figures for their industry understate joblessness there, since a worker toiling for one day during the BLS survey week is counted as employed for the entire month, even if he isn’t.

Services added many more jobs, with two low-paying occupations, health care (+39,000) and restaurants and bars (+37,000) leading the way in December. The restaurants and bars added 357,000 jobs in the year, more than factories and construction combined. Health care outdid all of them, adding 485,000 jobs in 2015, to 15.338 million.