“While we all breathe a sigh of relief any time the sector adds jobs, these numbers are hardly cause for celebration,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “If it wasn’t for the fact that the housing sector is finally on the mend, construction employment would be heading in the wrong direction.”
Despite the monthly gains, Sandherr said the sector’s overall employment levels are essentially unchanged from a year earlier. He also noted that industry employment in August was only 17,000, or 0.3 percent, higher than one year earlier. There are now 5.5 million construction workers employed across the country compared to the peak levels of 7.7 million the industry hit back in 2006, Sandherr added.
The construction employment gains for the past month and past year have largely come from the residential sector. The residential construction sector added 7,100 jobs between July and August and 23,900 jobs since August 2011. Residential building contractors actually lost 1,000 jobs in August, but have gained 5,200 for the year. Meanwhile, residential specialty trade contractors added 8,200 jobs in August and 18,700 for the year.
The AGC found that nonresidential construction employment declined by 6,000 in August and is down by 6,400 for the year. Sandherr said that the heavy and civil engineering construction sector, buoyed by the passage earlier this year of a new federal transportation bill, added 2,800 jobs between July and August and 17,400 since August 2011. However, nonresidential specialty trade contractors lost 6,400 jobs for the month and 18,900 for the year. And nonresidential building contractors lost 2,400 jobs in August and 4,900 since August 2011.