Industry Employment Ticks Up in November

Construction employment numbers related to the glass and glazing industry continued to trend in a positive direction in November, according to recently released data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The nonresidential specialty trade contractors and nonresidential building categories—which include glaziers, iron workers and building exterior contractors—saw job increases on a monthly and year-over-year basis.

Nonresidential specialty trade contractors increased employment by 0.5 percent from October and 2.7 percent from November 2016. Nonresidential building added jobs at a .6-percent clip for the month and a 3.1-percent rate for the year.

The national construction industry as a whole saw a 2.7-percent increase in employment, with both residential specialty trade contractors and residential building contractors also adding jobs on a monthly and yearly basis. The only category to register a decline was heavy and civil engineering, which is unrelated to glass and glazing.

Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist Anirban Basu said in his analysis that the U.S. economy is “humming” and that the consumer-led recovery isn’t showing signs of softening.

“This is good news for construction firms, particularly those that specialize in private construction,” he said. “The wildcard is business investment. If ongoing efforts to deregulate industries are ultimately combined with productive tax reform, the economy could become turbocharged as significant growth in business spending joins existing consumer spending momentum to return the United States to sustained growth of 3 percent or better.”

The unemployment rate in construction dropped to 5 percent last month from 5.7 percent a year earlier. Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) chief economist Ken Simonson said these declines show how difficult it has become for the industry to find experienced workers.

“Employment and pay in construction have risen more rapidly over the past year than in the economy overall, as the supply of unemployed, experienced workers continues to shrink,” he said. “With unemployment so low overall and in construction, contractors are likely to have increasing trouble filling many types of hourly craft and salaried openings.”

According to AGC, average hourly earnings in the industry climbed to $29.17, a rise of 2.9 percent from a year earlier. Simonson noted that construction pays nearly 10 percent more per hour than the average nonfarm private-sector job in the U.S.

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