Construction industry unemployment drops to 14.7 percent in March
“Construction held up better than a num-ber of other industries in part becauseof Hurricane Sandy-related rebuilding andthe fact that construction’s cyclical timingtends to lag that of the broader economy.”—ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.
The construction industry unemploymentrate fell to 14.7 percent in March, downfrom 15.7 percent in February, according tothe April 5 employment report by the U.S.Department of Labor. The nation added18,000 new construction jobs in March.Year-over-year, the construction industryworkforce has expanded by 2.9 percent, or162,000 jobs.Specialty trade contractors, the largestsubsector within the construction industry,added over 23,300 jobs in March, andhave grown by 112,500 jobs, or 3.2 per-cent, compared to the same time last year.Among specialty trade contractors, residen-tial specialty trade contractors added 12,500 jobs for the month and 72,900 jobs, or 5percent, from one year ago. Nonresidentialspecialty trade contractors gained 10,800 jobs for the month and added 39,600 jobs,or 1.9 percent, during the past year.Other construction subsectors also con-tinued to expand. Nonresidential buildingconstruction employment rose by 1,000 jobs last month and is up by 21,100 jobscompared to a year ago. Employment in thissector stands at 682,100 jobs. Employmentin the residential building segment expand-ed by 2,300 jobs in March and is up by4,900 jobs, or 0.9 percent, compared to oneyear ago. Heavy and civil engineering rep-resents the only subsector that lost jobs forthe month of March and is down 8,800 jobs.However, employment in this subsectorremains 2.7 percent, or 23,700 jobs, abovethe March 2012 level.Overall, the nation added 88,000 jobsin March and has added 1.8 million jobsduring the past twelve months. Last month,95,000 jobs were added in the private sec-tor while the public sector contracted by7,000 jobs.The national unemployment rate fell to7.6 percent in March, down from 7.7 per-cent the previous month and down from 8.2percent in March 2012.Analysis“ABC has been warning for severalmonths that growing fiscal headwindsemerging from Washington, D.C., wouldeventually interrupt the momentum of theU.S. economic recovery,” said AssociatedBuilders and Contractors Chief EconomistAnirban Basu. “That time may have come.“Many economists were surprised by thevigor of the U.S. economy given the highertax rates that took effect on Jan. 1, thesequestration and continued wrangling inWashington,” remarked Basu. “However,should the slowdown persist as seques-tration-related cuts steadily grind into theeconomy, construction will begin to feel thesting later this year.“In March, construction held up bet-ter than a number of other industries inpart because of Hurricane Sandy-relatedrebuilding and the fact that construction’scyclical timing tends to lag that of thebroader economy,” Basu stated. “For exam-ple, construction employment expanded by18,000 jobs last month, with employmentamong specialty trade contractors rising by23,000 jobs.“The hope is that the March employmentdata represent a one-month blip–a statisticalaberration in the wake of several surpris-ingly good employment reports in priormonths,” Basu offered. “On the positiveside, today’s employment report impliesthat interest rates will remain low, which allthings being is equal, is good for real estatevaluations and for nonresidential construc-tion.”
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