The construction industry lost 9,000 jobs on net in March, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a year-over-year basis, industry employment has grown by 196,000 jobs, an increase of 2.5%.
Nonresidential construction employment fell by 1,800 positions on net, with declines in 2 of the 3 subcategories. Nonresidential specialty trade lost 6,100 positions, while the number of nonresidential building jobs decreased by 2,800. Heavy and civil engineering added 7,100 net new jobs.
The construction unemployment rate declined to 5.6% in March. Unemployment across all industries decreased from 3.6% in February to 3.5% last month.
“The March employment report may hint at growing economic weakness in the months to come,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “While the nonresidential construction industry lost fewer than 2,000 jobs, the addition of jobs in publicly financed construction categories masks more substantial weakness in private segments. It is precisely those private segments that tend to be most affected by slowing economic growth, deteriorating confidence and concerns regarding the nation’s banking system.
“While the nation continues to progress economically, headwinds are building,” said Basu. “Recession remains a likely outcome within the next 12 months. Contractors generally report healthy backlog and confidence regarding the next six months, but the industry may be positioned for meaningfully weaker conditions in 2024.”