Construction employment added 22,000 jobs on net in December 2021, according to www.abc.org. Overall, the industry has recovered slightly more than 1 million—92.1%—of the jobs lost during earlier stages of the pandemic.
The construction unemployment rate rose from 4.7% in November 2021 to 5% in December 2021. The national unemployment rate for all industries decreased from 4.2% in November 2021 to 3.9% in December 2021 as the U.S. economy added 199,000 jobs.
Nonresidential construction added 27,000 jobs in December 2021, with all three subcategories registering gains for the month. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 12,900 jobs; heavy and civil engineering added 10,400 jobs; and nonresidential building added 3,700 jobs.
Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu said the the data are difficult to interpret. Economists were expecting the economy to add 422,000 jobs.
“Dig a bit deeper, and the labor market appears much tighter and stronger than indicated by the payroll growth number,” Basu said. “Economywide unemployment dipped to 3.9% as the labor force participation rate remained unchanged. While it is true that the construction industry rate of unemployment ticked higher, this is likely because of seasonal factors as opposed to a rush of Americans joining the construction workforce.
“While the data are puzzling in many ways, the implication for contractors is reasonably straightforward,” Basu continued. “The labor market remains extremely tight going into 2022. Contractors will be competing fiercely for talent. They already have been, according to ABC’s Construction Confidence Indicator, but that competition will become even more intense as dollars from the infrastructure package flow into the economy. Accordingly, contractors should expect another year of rapid wage increases in 2022. Those rising costs, along with others, must be included in bids if margins are to be sustained.”