Construction employers added 5,000 jobs in September, bringing the industry's unemployment rate to 11.9 percent.
Construction firms employed 5.523 million people in September, up from 5.518 in August; despite the gain, overall employment was 5,000 jobs below September 2011. The construction industry currently employs 2.2 million fewer people than it did six years ago, when employment peaked at 7.7 million workers, according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).
"Despite the slight uptick in construction employment for the past month, the industry is a bit smaller than it was one year ago," said Stephen Sandherr, the AGC’s chief executive officer. "It appears that for every rebounding market segment, there is another one shrinking."
Both residential and nonresidential construction added jobs in September, even as residential construction outpaced nonresidential for the year. Residential building contractors added 1,100 jobs in September and 3,200 for the year. Residential specialty trade contractors added 2,300 jobs in September and 19,700 for the year.
Nonresidential building contractors, a niche that has shed 12,400 jobs in the last year, added 1,100 jobs in September. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 1,500 jobs for the month, but lost 30,000 for the year. And the heavy and civil engineering construction sector lost 200 jobs in September, but has added 14,600 since September 2011.
Sandherr also cautioned that over two million former construction workers have left the industry, and predicted that employers will face difficulty finding skilled workers once construction demand rebounds.