While overall national construction employment remained unchanged in August, nonresidential construction lost 3,300 jobs, according to the September 6 employment report by the U.S. Department of Labor. Construction industry employment has grown three percent, adding 168,000 jobs, since the same time last year. Nonresidential construction accounted for 42 percent of that growth—making August a deviation from what generally has been a positive nonresidential construction employment trend.
Although the national construction unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, it is down from 11.3 percent in August 2012, representing an expansion from 8.17 million workers 12 months ago to 8.32 million workers in August 2013. Much of this growth is due to the uptick in residential building; however, residential construction employment also fell by 600 jobs last month, which may be an indication that the nation’s housing recovery is stalling in the face of higher interest rates and materials, labor and land costs.
Nonresidential specialty trade contractors lost 1,300 jobs for the month, but employment remains 39,200 jobs, or 1.9 percent, higher than one year ago. Residential specialty trade contractors added 4,900 jobs in August and have added 87,800 jobs, or 6 percent, since August 2012.
Across all industries, the nation added 169,000 jobs, falling short of consensus expectations that were in the neighborhood of 175,000 jobs. The private sector expanded by 152,000 jobs and the public sector added 17,000 jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) household survey, the national unemployment rate fell slightly to 7.3 percent in August, down from 7.4 percent in July and 8.1 percent in August 2012. However, this was due in part to a decline in the labor force participation rate, which now stands at just 63.2 percent.