Construction employment surged in February

March 8, 2022

Construction employment added 60,000 jobs on net in February, nearing pre-pandemic levels, according to The industry has recovered almost all—99%—of the jobs lost during earlier stages of the pandemic.

The construction unemployment rate fell from 7.1% in January to 6.7% in February. The national unemployment rate for all industries decreased from 4% in January to 3.8% in February as the U.S. economy added 678,000 jobs.

Nonresidential construction added 29,400 jobs in February, with all three subcategories registering gains for the month. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 19,900 jobs; heavy and civil engineering added 7,300 jobs; and nonresidential building added 2,200 jobs.

“Bottom line: The U.S. economy is charging into the post-pandemic world with significant momentum, and nonresidential construction is part of that story,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “At the heart of America’s economic momentum is rapid workforce growth, with more people re-entering the workforce to take advantage of higher wages and to better contend with rapidly rising prices.

“Evidence indicates that contractors have had a somewhat easier time filling available positions recently,” Basu continued. “There are also indications that supply chain issues have improved slightly, though the Ukraine/Russia war may create new issues on that front. With demand strong and the supply side of the economy in repair, 2022 is setting up to be a strong year for contractors. At some point, federal infrastructure dollars will begin to flow more freely, and that will help support additional contractor backlog, which declined to 8.0 months in ABC’s latest Construction Backlog Indicator report.”

Basu said there still are reasons for concern.

“Despite stepped-up federal investment in infrastructure, overall federal spending will be down sharply in 2022, creating substantial fiscal drag,” Basu said. “Inflation has been draining households of accumulated savings and could trigger rapid slowing in consumer outlays. Interest rates are poised to rise as the Federal Reserve readies itself to deal more forcefully with what has turned out to be nontransitory inflation. Elevated oil prices are likely already doing damage to the economy, damage that is not yet apparent in key macroeconomic indicators. Elevated oil and other prices are also driving the cost of delivering construction services higher, which could result in the postponement or cancellation of some projects.”

Tags: Workforce | Trends


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