Overall construction employment increased by 23,000 jobs in August and by 297,000 jobs over the past year, reaching a 10-year high, while the industry's unemployment rate stood at an all-time low, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Hourly earnings in the construction industry averaged $29.95 in August, an increase of 3.3% from a year earlier. Average hourly earnings in construction are now 10.3% higher than the average for all nonfarm private-sector jobs, which rose 2.9% in the past year, to $27.16. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for workers with construction experience in August was 3.4%, matching the all-time low set in July and more than a percentage point lower than the August 2017 rate.
The report found that most firms are struggling to find enough workers to keep up with demand.
"The construction industry continues to add workers and increase pay at greater rates than the economy as a whole, with job gains spread across both residential and non-residential construction," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "But contractors report widespread difficulty in finding qualified workers for both salaried and hourly craft positions."
Construction employment totaled 7,259,000 in August, the highest level since May 2008 and a gain of 4.3% over the past 12 months, more than double the 1.6% rise in total nonfarm payroll employment. Employment in residential construction – comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors—grew by 12,900 jobs in August and added 136,600 jobs over the past 12 months, a 5.1% increase. Employment in nonresidential construction—including building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction—grew by 9,600 jobs in August and increased by 160,500 during the past year, a 3.8% increase.