Construction firms added 18,000 workers in January, as the industry’s unemployment rate declined to a 17- year low of 8.5 percent, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. The overall unemployment number in the U.S. dropped to 4.9% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
U.S. Unemployment Rate Drops to 4.9 Percent
Officials noted that the number of construction jobs added in January was down compared to the last three months of 2015 and could indicate a potential slowdown in construction activity or an inability of finding qualified workers. The slowdown in January follows three months of major surges in employment, as construction added 45,000 jobs in December, 46,000 in November, and 31,000 in October.
Related: December Construction Job Boom
AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson said “it is not yet clear whether the slowdown in hiring can be attributed to economic uncertainty or construction firms’ inability to find qualified workers in the tight labor pool.” The AGC report can be found here.
Three important facts to look at are that seasonal factors wreak havoc on construction data this time of year. Secondly most of the weakness was in heavy and civil engineering, which by most accounts can look forward to future federal funding commitments. Finally the general overall outlook on construction growth looks promising in 2016, even though keeping up with 2014 and 2015 is a tough act to follow.
Related: 2016 Optimistic Outlook
Stephen Fean is the Vice President of Business Development at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate and construction project management and owner’s rep. firm. Watchdog provides these services by acting as an extension of an existing real estate department or as an advocate for companies without this type of internal resource. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.