Construction Unemployment Rate Sets 24-Year Low of 3.6%

The construction industry added 23,000 jobs in June, according to analysis of federal data by both the Associated Builders and Contractors and Associated General Contractors.

Over half of the increase came from nonresidential construction firms, which added a total of 12,200 positions with growth in two out of three categories.

Heavy and civil engineering firms added 7,300 positions, while nonresidential building added another 5,400 jobs. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors lost 500 jobs on the net.

construction employment growth June 2022 vs. June 2023Associated Builders and ContractorsMeanwhile, employment at residential building and specialty trade firms grew by 10,800.

Construction employment in June totaled 7,947,000, seasonally adjusted, an addition of 23,000 or 0.3 percent from the month prior. 

The sector has added 198,000 jobs during the past 12 months, an increase of 2.6 percent. 

Association officials said there appears to be continuing demand for construction services and that employers likely would have added even more jobs if they could find more qualified workers to hire.

“There was no letup in demand for construction workers in June, while the supply of available workers remained exceptionally tight,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Both residential and nonresidential construction are expanding despite concerns about overall economic growth and inflation.”  

construction employment statistics june 2023Associated Builders and ContractorsCollectively, the construction sector has added jobs in 15 of the last 16 months, association officials said.

ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu noted that ABC’s Construction Confidence Index suggests contractors will continue to increase staffing levels through the remainder of 2023.

However, he also acknowledged that the latest numbers confirm that labor shortages will continue to provide a stiff headwind to hiring. 

 “The construction unemployment rate inched up to 3.6% in June, but that’s still the second-lowest rate on record,” he said.

Comparatively, across all other industries, unemployment remains near a 50-year low, and the prime age (24-54) employment-to-population ratio rose to the highest level since 2001.

Another sign contractors are facing a challenge in filling positions was the other government report released last week that indicated the 366,000 job openings in the construction sector that were cataloged at the end of May. It marked the second-highest total recorded for the month.

In addition, the reports showed that average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees in construction climbed by 5.7% percent over the year to $34.09 per hour. 

Analysis indicated that in May, construction firms provided a wage premium of more than 18% compared to the average hourly earnings for all private-sector production employees.

“These dynamics will persist during the next few months,” said Basu. “The combination of high-interest rates and tight credit conditions will eventually drag down demand for construction services, but until that time the industry will continue to be defined by worker scarcity.”

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construction job openings and quit rates May 2012 to May 2023Associated Builders and Contractors