Further construction jobs gains made in nonresidential

By |  January 7, 2022
MACC Tech is a two-year program designed to provide students with basic knowledge of aggregate production, asphalt and concrete production, and construction equipment and techniques. Photo: iStock.com/1715d1db_3

Employment gains continue to be made in nonresidential construction. Photo: iStock.com/1715d1db_3

Construction employment increased by 22,000 jobs between November and December 2021 as nonresidential construction firms added workers for the fourth month in a row, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reports.

Residential construction employment, meanwhile, slipped, according to an AGC analysis of government data.

AGC officials say the new employment figures are consistent with the results of a new outlook survey they will be releasing Jan. 12.

“Nonresidential contractors are increasingly busy and are eager to hire even more workers,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “But the low rate of unemployment and record job openings in construction show how difficult it is bringing enough workers on board.”

Simonson notes that the unemployment rate among former construction workers in December was 5 percent, which tied the lowest December rate since at least 2000 and was down from 9.6 percent a year earlier.

Simonson adds that industry job openings totaled 345,000 at the end of November – an all-time high for November data. Construction employment in December totaled 7.56 million, an increase of 22,000 for the month and 160,000 – or 2.2 percent – for the year.

Still, industry employment trails the pre-pandemic peak set in February 2020 by 88,000 positions.

Other details

Nonresidential construction firms added 27,000 employees in December, following a pickup of 25,700 in November. The category comprises nonresidential building contractors, with a gain of 3,700 employees; specialty trade contractors, with 12,900 more workers than in November; and heavy and civil engineering construction, which added 10,400 employees.

Nonresidential employment remains 169,000 below the February 2020 level, though. The sector has regained only 74 percent of the jobs lost at the outset of the pandemic, according to AGC.

Residential construction employment dipped for only the second time in 2021, by 4,100 employees, in December. Residential building contractors, such as homebuilders and general contractors that concentrate on multifamily construction, added 700 workers during the month, while residential specialty trade contractors shed 4,800 employees. Residential employment in December remained 82,000 above the February 2020 mark.

Added perspective  

AGC officials say the jobs figures reflect the industry optimism indicated in the annual outlook survey they will be releasing, but they caution that labor shortages continue to challenge contractors who are struggling to hire enough workers to keep pace with demand.

“The industry appears well poised for a strong recovery in 2022, but there are certainly clear challenges, including labor shortages, that could undermine construction this year,” says Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s CEO.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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