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News March 14, 2023

Construction employment added jobs in February

Construction employment added 24,000 jobs on net in February, according to On a year-over-year basis, the industry has expanded by 249,000 jobs—an increase of 3.2%.

The construction unemployment rate fell from 6.9% in January to 6.6% in February. The national unemployment rate for all industries rose from 3.4% in January to 3.6% in February as the U.S. economy added 311,000 jobs.

Nonresidential construction added 11,600 jobs in February, with all three subsectors showing growth. Heavy and civil engineering added 7,700 jobs for the month; nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 2,200 jobs; and nonresidential building added 1,700 jobs.

“Earlier this week, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey indicated that the number of available, unfilled jobs in construction plummeted in January,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The February jobs report makes it more likely that this data point is an aberration. Both residential and nonresidential contractors added jobs in February, which is consistent with ABC’s Construction Confidence Index indicating that many contractors continue to seek additional staffing.

“While industry momentum persists, the jobs report suggests that the Federal Reserve still has considerably more work to do to slow the economy,” Basu continued. “Though average hourly earnings are not expanding as quickly as they had been, wages are still rising too rapidly on an annual basis to position the Federal Reserve to restore inflation to its 2% target. Accordingly, monetary policy is set to tighten more quickly going forward, with interest rates rising further and staying higher for longer." 

Basu said an increase in large projects is likely to keep some contractors busy.

“Construction industry momentum may falter at some point in the future as project financing becomes increasingly expensive,” Basu said. “That said, some contractors will continue to have significant workflow even in the instance of an economywide recession. That’s due to the arrival of megaprojects, including those emerging from infrastructure programs and investment in more manufacturing capacity in America.”


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