Construction unemployment bumps up to 17.2%

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“The employment trend in construction job losses continued in September, as we’ve witnessed in recent months,” reports Associated Builders & Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “It was the nonresidential specialty trade contractors that took the brunt of the losses,” he adds.

In a sign that the nation’s builders continue to struggle, the unemployment rate for the construction industry rose to 17.2 percent in September, up from 17 percent in August and 17.1 percent from one year ago, according to the October 8 employment report by the U.S. Labor Department. The construction industry lost 21,000 jobs in September while still gaining 8,000 jobs for the quarter due to a 31,000 job increase in August. Over the past twelve months, the industry has lost 210,000 jobs or 3.6 percent.

Regionally in the latest weekly report, New York, Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee had the largest declines in initial jobless claims. NC has 2,078 fewer jobless claims reflecting fewer layoffs in the construction, industrial machinery, computer equipment, and furniture industries.

Nonresidential building construction gained 1,600 jobs in September. For the third quarter, nonresidential building construction employment gained 3,900 jobs. However, on a year-over-year basis, the subsector has lost 17,200 jobs, or 2.4 percent, as nonresidential building construction employment stood at 686,600 in September.

The nonresidential specialty trade contractor subsector lost 19,500 jobs in September, but was positive with an increase of 11,600 jobs for the third quarter. Still, over the past twelve months, nonresidential specialty trade contractor employment is down by 108,400 jobs, or 5.1 percent. Heavy and civil engineering construction lost 200 jobs in September, marking the first monthly loss since May. Heavy and civil engineering construction gained 18,400 jobs for the quarter and 8,500 since September of last year. Meanwhile, residential building construction lost 1,100 jobs for the month, 10,200 jobs for the quarter, and 37,200 jobs from the same time last year.

Total employment across all industries was down 95,000 in September marking the fourth straight monthly loss as employment shrank by 393,000 jobs from June through September. Year-over-year, total employment is up by 344,000 jobs or 0.3 percent. Private sector employment increased by 64,000 jobs in September, 274,000 in the third quarter, and 593,000 over the last twelve months. Still, 14.8 million people are out of work as the national unemployment rate in September remained flat at 9.6 percent.

Analysis

“The Labor Department’s jobs report for September reaffirmed the established pattern of overall job loss in the public sector in contrast with private sector employment growth,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “For the ninth consecutive month, the private sector added jobs, roughly an average of 95,000 per month. Compare that to the 159,000 public jobs that were shed in September, of which 83,000 jobs were lost in state and local government.

“Surprisingly, the nonresidential building construction sector added jobs for the first time since July, though the number of net additions was quite small,” Basu said. “Overall, the September jobs data shows that the U.S. private sector remains in recovery, but that the recovery is quite modest and has yet to bring all key segments of the U.S. economy out of the recession.”  Read More.

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