Construction employment dipped in May for the second straight month, according to analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). However, AGC notes that rising industry pay and a drop in unemployment suggest contractors would be hiring more workers if they were available.

“Although construction employment slipped in April and May, the industry has added workers in the past year at double the rate of the overall economy,” says Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Average pay in construction is rising faster than in the rest of the private sector, and the number of unemployed construction workers was at the lowest May level in 16 years. These facts support what contractors tell us: they have plenty of work but are struggling to find qualified workers to hire.”

Construction employment totaled 6,645,000 in May, dropping 15,000 from April. The change from March to April was revised to a 5,000-employee decline from an initial estimate of a 1,000-job gain. Even with the back-to-back decreases, industry employment increased by 219,000, or 3.4 percent, compared to a year ago.

Average hourly earnings, a measure of wages and salaries for all workers, increased 2.6 percent in construction to $28.04 in May. Simonson says that was nearly 10 percent higher than the private-sector average, which rose 2.5 percent over the past 12 months. He adds that the number of unemployed jobseekers who last worked in the construction industry decreased for the seventh year in a row, to 461,000, the lowest total for May since 2000.

Nonresidential construction—comprising building, specialty trades and heavy and civil engineering construction firms—shed 10,300 jobs for the month but added 91,400 employees compared to May 2015, a 2.3-percent increase.

Residential construction—residential building and specialty trade contractors—declined by 4,400 jobs in May but is up by 127,700, or 5.2 percent, compared to a year ago.