Construction employment increased by 11,000 jobs in May to the highest level since October 2008 and average weekly hours set a series high for May as contractors struggled to find enough workers to meet demand for projects, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials urged lawmakers and other public officials to address the growing shortage of available qualified workers by funding and re-invigorating career and technical education programs.
Construction employment totaled 6,881,000 in May, a gain of 11,000 from the April total and an increase of 191,000 or 2.9 percent from a year ago. The year-over-year growth rate was almost double the 1.6 percent rise in total non-farm payroll employment, Simonson noted. The sector's unemployment rate in May was 5.3 percent, up slightly from 5.2 percent a year ago but one of the lowest May levels in decades.
Residential construction—comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—added 7,100 jobs in May and 191,000, or 4.7 percent, over the past 12 months. Nonresidential construction (building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) employment increased by 4,400 jobs in May and 71,300, or 1.7 percent, over 12 months.