AGC: Construction industry adds jobs in December

By |  January 12, 2024

AGC

The construction sector added 17,000 employees in December and continued to raise wages at a faster clip than other industries, according to an Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) analysis of government data.

Association officials say a survey it released found contractors expect to hire more employees in 2024 but are struggling to find enough qualified workers.

“The above-average wages that the construction industry pays have helped contractors add workers,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “More than two-thirds of firms in our survey say they plan to expand in 2024 but they expect it will be as hard or harder to do than it was in 2023.”

Construction employment in December totaled 8.05 million, seasonally adjusted, an increase of 17,000 from November. The sector added 197,000 jobs over the past 12 months – a gain of 2.5 percent. That gain outpaced the 1.7 percent job growth in the overall economy.

Residential building and specialty trade contractors added 5,500 employees in December and are up 40,100 year over year, according to AGC. Employment at nonresidential construction firms – nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors, along with heavy and civil engineering construction firms – climbed by 11,900 positions for the month and added 157,300 since December 2022.

Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees in construction – covering most onsite craft workers as well as many office workers – increased 5.1 percent over the year to $34.92 per hour. Construction firms in December provided a wage premium of nearly 19 percent compared to the average hourly earnings for all private-sector production employees.

According to an AGC survey, 69 percent of the nearly 1,300 responding construction firms report that they expect to add to their headcount in 2024, while only 10 percent expect to reduce headcount. Fifty-five percent of respondents, including both union and open-shop employers, expect it will be as hard or harder to do so than in 2023.

Association officials say contractors will have trouble completing infrastructure, renewable energy and advanced manufacturing projects the Biden administration is counting on unless they can hire enough skilled workers. They urge officials in Washington to reform employment-based immigration policies and boost funding for career and technical education programs that will enable more people to qualify for rewarding jobs in construction.

“Contractors are eager to build the structures that will sustainably improve the nation’s productivity and quality of life,” says Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO. “Limiting who can work in construction undercuts the sector’s ability to deliver projects on time and on budget.”

Related: AGC: Labor issues still lingering

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About the Author:

Jack Kopanski is the Managing Editor of Pit & Quarry and Editor-in-Chief of Portable Plants. Kopanski can be reached at 216-706-3756 or jkopanski@northcoastmedia.net.

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