Construction Unemployment, Jobs in Decline
The construction jobs numbers in July were a mixed bag at best – unemployment fell 0.5 percent, but the industry also shed 1,000 jobs. Analysts believe that underused workers are leaving the construction field altogether to find work, which in turn is making specialized jobs hard to fill.
The numbers for the construction industry just keep falling.
Unemployment in July declined to 12.3 percent, down from 12.8 in June and 14.2 in May. The number of jobs in the industry fell as well, down about 1,000 from the month before, according to the Department of Labor's August 3 report.
The falling figures are believed to be symptoms of the same root problem – the industry itself is shedding jobs, and workers are leaving to find greener pastures in another line of work. Since the housing market ostensibly bottomed out last year, the industry has only added 5,000 jobs, or 0.1 percent of the workforce.
The nonresidential building sector lost 500 jobs for the month but has added 1,500 jobs, or 0.2 percent, since July 2011. Residential construction industry employment has increased by 5,800 jobs since June and 6,900 jobs from the same time last year.
Nonresidential specialty trade contractors shed 9,500 jobs for the month and have lost 19,200 jobs, or 1 percent, from one year ago. Residential specialty trade contractors lost 3,100 jobs in July but added 5,500 jobs, or 0.4 percent, year-over-year. Heavy and civil engineering construction employment increased by 6,200 jobs from June to July and is up by 10,800 jobs, or 1.3 percent, from July 2011.
Across all industries, the nation added 163,000 jobs as the private sector expanded by 172,000 jobs and the public sector shrank by 9,000 jobs. Year over year, the nation has added 1,838,000 jobs, or 1.4 percent to job totals. The unemployment rate stood at 8.3 percent in July, up from 8.2 percent in June.
''There is the possibility that seasonal factors are partially responsible for the decline in construction unemployment,'' said Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist Anirban Basu in a statement. ''However, the lack of construction employment growth is consistent with the general level of unease felt by many decision makers, including lenders. This heightened level of economic and policy uncertainty has suppressed construction starts, which in turn has constrained hiring.''