US construction employment increases 2.4 percent in August

Friday, 06 September 2019 21:25:49 (GMT+3)   |   San Diego

US construction employment increased by 14,000 jobs in August and by 177,000, or 2.4 percent, over the past 12 months, while the number of unemployed jobseekers with construction experience remained near historic lows, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, said the 2.4 percent growth in construction employment between August 2018 and August 2019 was the slowest in more than six years but that the rate remained well above the 1.4 percent increase in total nonfarm payroll employment. There were 361,000 unemployed jobseekers who last worked in construction—an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent for such workers. Simonson noted those were the second-lowest August levels since the series began in 2000.

Average hourly earnings in construction—a measure of all wages and salaries—increased 2.7 percent over the year to $30.84. That figure was 9.7 percent higher than the private-sector average of $28.11, the association official noted. He added that two-thirds of firms responding to the association’s survey had raised base pay rates for hourly craft workers in the past year because of difficulty in filling positions, while 58 percent of firms had done so for salaried workers. Many respondents also reported providing incentives, bonuses and larger contributions to benefit plans.

Association officials said the industry was taking a broad range of steps to cope with labor shortages, including boosting pay, expanding training programs and becoming more efficient. But they cautioned that labor shortages are still impacting construction schedules and costs. They urged Congress to pass measures to boost career and technical education and provide a way for more immigrants with construction skills to legally enter the country.

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