The construction industry added 31,000 jobs in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In November, employment continued to trend up in specialty trade contractors (+13,000), construction of buildings (+10,000), and heavy and civil engineering construction (+8,000), according to the data.
However, construction employment is 115,000 below its February 2020 level.
Nonresidential construction added 20,800 jobs while 10,300 residential construction positions were added.
Construction unemployment was at 4.7% for November.
“Today’s jobs report will be viewed by many as a big miss thanks to the headline number, and that is a mistake,” said Associated Builders & Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “While many economists were expecting close to 600,000 jobs instead of the 210,000 figure that emerged today, there were many positive indications from today’s report. Among them is the fact that the labor force participation rate rose to 61.8% from 61.6%. While inflationary pressures are generally unpleasant, they may also be inducing more Americans to jump back into the labor force as life has become more expensive. That appears to have happened in November.
“What’s more, the November figures indicate that ABC’s Construction Confidence Indicator has been correct in predicting construction employment growth during the latter stages of 2021,” Basu continued. “For the most part, contractors indicate that they remain busy with sufficiently healthy backlog. Accordingly, hiring remains brisk. The expectation is that, during the months to come, a growing number of public construction projects, whether involving roads and bridges, schools, rail or other segments, will begin. In short, nonresidential construction employment growth is poised for ongoing expansion in 2022.
"As always, there is uncertainty,” Basu added. “The omicron variant hovers over the economy like a dark cloud. Economists have little idea what the impact of the new variant will be, but there are scenarios suggesting that it could cut growth next year by as much as half. There are also scenarios where there will be no discernible impact. Only time will tell. What is known is that contractors will continue to struggle to hire, which strongly signals ongoing construction wage pressures throughout the year to come.”