December employment numbers in the U.S. were strong across most industries, including those most relevant to glass and glazing.
Construction employment increased by 38,000 jobs in December, and the industry added 280,000 jobs in 2018, compared with an increase of 250,000 the previous year. This marks a 4-percent increase in construction jobs from the end of 2017 to the end of 2018.
More specifically, the nonresidential specialty trade contractors sector, which includes glaziers and ironworkers, saw a 3.8-percent job increase in 2018 compared to 2017.
Hourly earnings in construction were up 3.9 percent from the prior year, and the unemployment rate for construction workers was 5.1 percent in December. That rate was 5.9 percent a year ago.
Associated General Contractors of America chief economist Ken Simonson said in his analysis that construction demand remains strong across most building segments and areas. “Job growth and pay increases in construction are outpacing those in the overall economy,” he said. “But contractors continue to have difficulty finding qualified workers with the number of unemployed workers who have construction experience at the lowest December level in 19 years.”
Meanwhile, manufacturing added 32,000 jobs in December, and employment in the sector increased by 284,000 over the year, following a 207,000 job uptick in 2017.
Employment in nonmetallic mineral products manufacturing, which includes architectural glass and flat glass products, increased 2.1 percent. Also in relevant manufacturing categories, the fabricated metal products manufacturing sector, which includes architectural metals, added jobs at a 3.3-percent rate.
Employment for architectural and engineering services increased 3 percent.
“For several reasons, such as market volatility, a sense of deep concern has set in recently among many economic stakeholders,” Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist Anirban Basu noted in ABC’s analysis. “There has also been some evidence of economic slowing, including in America’s manufacturing sector. But [Friday’s] employment release reminds us that the U.S. economy continues to expand and that many businesses, including construction firms, remain in growth mode.”