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Construction Employment Increases By 21,000 Between April And May

Arlington, VA - The construction industry added 21,000 jobs in May and 251,000 jobs over the past year, with increases at both nonresidential and residential construction firms, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that nonresidential contractors report continuing difficulty filling positions despite the job gains, and they urged government officials to boost support for career development and allow more employment-based immigration.

“Construction firms have been adding workers at a faster clip than most sectors,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But contractors say they are still having trouble finding enough skilled workers to meet the demand for data centers, manufacturing plants, renewable energy, and infrastructure projects.”

Construction employment in May totaled 8,228,000, seasonally adjusted, a gain of 21,000 from April. Residential construction firms—homebuilders and specialty trade contractors—added 3,500 employees. The three types of nonresidential contractors added a total of 17,100 employees: 3,000 at nonresidential builders, 13,000 at nonresidential specialty trade contractors, and 1,100 at heavy and civil engineering construction firms.

The industry added 251,000 jobs between May 2023 and last month, an increase of 3.1 percent. Employment at nonresidential construction firms rose by 179,000 or 3.8 percent, more than double the 1.8 percent increase in total nonfarm employment. Residential construction employment increased by 71,900 or 2.2 percent.

Average hourly earnings for production and non-supervisory employees in construction—covering most onsite craft workers as well as many office workers—climbed by 4.3 percent over the year to $35.45 per hour. Construction firms in April provided a wage “premium” of 18.2 percent compared to the $29.99 average hourly earnings for all private-sector production employees.

Association officials said nonresidential contractors are still having difficulty finding enough workers to execute projects on time. They urged government officials at all levels to put more resources into education and training programs for fields like construction. They also called again on Congress and the Biden administration to allow construction firms to sponsor qualified foreign workers to ease critical shortages of skilled crafts.

“Current immigration policy and inadequate funding levels for career and technical education programs mean the federal government is preventing many construction firms from meeting the demand for building infrastructure, renewable energy facilities, and advanced manufacturing plants,” said Jeffrey Shoaf, the association’s chief executive officer. “It is essential that the government make an all-out commitment to measures that can enable contractors to obtain the skilled workforce required to deliver vitally needed projects.”

View the construction employment data.

About The Associated General Contractors Of America

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is a leading association for the construction industry. AGC represents more than 26,000 firms, including over 6,500 of America’s leading general contractors, and over 9,000 specialty-contracting firms. More than 10,500 service providers and suppliers are also associated with AGC, all through a nationwide network of chapters. To learn more, visit www.agc.org.

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