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Construction employment decreases for the first time in more than two years

Construction employment decreased by 31,000 jobs in February because of extreme winter weather across the U.S., following an increase of 53,000 jobs in January, according to www.agc.org.

The construction industry unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage points to 6.2 percent, which is 1.6 percentage points lower than at the same time in 2018. The national unemployment rate for all industries decreased to 3.8 percent.

"The decline in construction employment in February follows an oversized increase in January of 53,000 employees," says Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America. "That suggests contractors may have been able to bring workers on board sooner than normal and had less need to hire in February than usual, even if lousy weather conditions hadn't stalled some projects."

"A bigger concern for the industry is the lack of experienced workers," Simonson continues. "There were fewer unemployed construction workers last month than any prior February in the 20-year history of this series, down 144,000 from a year earlier. Contractors are scrambling to find workers, despite offering pay that is well above the private sector as a whole."

Average hourly earnings in construction—a measure of all wages and salaries—increased 3.1 percent over the year to $30.45, which is 10 percent higher than the private-sector average of $27.66.


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