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Construction employment increases in June

Construction employment increased by 16,000 jobs in June to the highest level since October 2008, according to www.agc.org.

Although construction unemployment tends to decline in the summer, the decline still is significant because industry unemployment now stands at 4.5 percent—near lows achieved in 2006.

However, finding qualified workers still remains an issue for the industry.

"Construction firms added employees over the past year at nearly double the rate of the overall economy, but the record-low unemployment rate for construction workers shows companies are having to reach outside the industry to fill positions," says Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). "Finding any qualified workers will likely become even harder with low unemployment throughout the economy."

Construction employment totaled 6.896 million in June, an increase of 16,000 from May and 206,000, or 3.1 percent, from June 2016.

Residential construction added 6,000 jobs in June and is up by 115,600, or 4.5 percent, compared with a year ago. Nonresidential construction employment increased by 10,300 in June and by 90,600, or 2.2 percent, during the past 12 months.

Construction officials warned that construction employment gains would likely have been higher if it were easier for firms to find workers to hire. Instead, firms are asking current employees to work longer hours to keep pace with demand. Officials urged lawmakers to enact measures that give educators and employers greater flexibility to set up and run construction training programs. In particular, they called on senators to enact a new Perkins Act measure that passed in the House in June.

"More young people would be able to find jobs in construction that pay better than other industries if there were more opportunities to expose students to the sector," says Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC's CEO. "It is time to fix an education system that is preparing too many students for jobs that don't exist while too many jobs go unfilled because graduates lack the skills employers need."



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