Construction Jobs Increase by 11,000, Firms Cant Find Openings

Oct 17, 2023

According to a report by the Associated General Contractors of America, the industry created roughly 11,000 new construction jobs in September, as data also revealed a 5.5 percent increase in hourly pay for workers.

The report discussed the correlation between the industry’s 3.8 percent unemployment rate and a large number of job openings, as contractors have been finding it difficult to find qualified workers as unemployment rates for the industry remained at historically low levels.

“Construction firms have plenty of projects, but a dip in nonresidential employment last month shows how hard it has been to find enough skilled workers,” Ken Simonson, AGC Cheif Economist said. “Job openings remain stubbornly high, even though the industry has been raising hourly pay at an elevated rate.”

Construction employment in September totaled 8,014,000, seasonally adjusted, with a climbing rate of 11,000 or 0.1 percent from August.

The sector added 217,000 jobs during the past year, an increase of 2.8 percent.

Residential building and specialty trade contractors hired 12,600 employees in September and 55,300 (1.7 percent) over a year.

Nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors, in addition to heavy and civil engineering construction firms, saw overall job growth fall by roughly 1,300 jobs for the month. Compared to September 2022, it marks an increase of 161,600 (3.5 percent) jobs.

The unemployment rate for those who are seeking employment with construction experience was 3.8 percent in September, one of the lowest September rates in the 24-year history of the data. A separate government report released earlier this week reported that there were 360,000 job openings in construction at the end of August, which was the highest August total in the report’s history and also a sign of contractors’ difficulty in finding qualified workers.

Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees in construction increased by nearly 5.5 percent over 12 months to $34.54 per hour. Construction firms in August provided a wage “premium” of almost 19 percent, compared to the average hourly wages for all private-sector production employees. Association officials said not enough future workers are exposed to construction as a possible career opportunity, despite that the profession pays very well, and usually does not require workers to have a college degree. They urged public officials to boost investments in programs that expose workers to construction as a career opportunity, and also called on Congress and the Biden administration to find ways to allow more people with construction skills to lawfully enter the country and work in the profession.

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