Construction employment increased by 25,000 jobs in May and by 286,000 jobs over the past year while construction spending reached $1.310 trillion in April, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the employment and spending increases have come as federal officials have reformed taxes, reduced regulatory burdens and boosted infrastructure spending.
"Construction workers and their employers are clearly benefitting from steps Congress and the administration are taking to boost economic demand," said Stephen Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "Construction pay, employment and demand have all increased as business conditions have improved."
Construction employment totaled 7,210,000 in May, a gain of 25,000 for the month and 286,000, or 4.1%, over 12 months. Association officials pointed out that the year-over-year growth rate in industry jobs was significantly higher than the 1.6 percent rise in total nonfarm payroll employment and that construction employment is now higher than at any point since June 2008.
Hourly earnings in the industry averaged $29.65 in May, an increase of 3.2% from a year earlier. That put the average hourly earnings in construction 10.1% higher than the average for all nonfarm private-sector jobs, which rose 2.7% in the past year, to $26.92, Sandherr added.
Construction unemployment hit one of the lowest levels on record, association officials added. They noted that the unemployment rate in construction decreased from 5.3% a year ago to 4.4% last month, the lowest rate of unemployment since July 2000. The number of unemployed job seekers with recent construction experience has plummeted 87,000 since May 2017.