ABC: Nonresidential Construction Adds Nearly 12,000 Jobs in December 2023

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The construction industry added 17,000 jobs on net in December, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a year-over-year basis, industry employment has grown by 197,000 jobs, an increase of 2.5%.

Last month, nonresidential construction employment increased by 11,900 positions on net, with growth in 2 of the 3 subcategories. Nonresidential building added 8,100 positions, while nonresidential specialty trade added 4,300 jobs on net. Heavy and civil engineering lost 500 jobs.

The construction unemployment rate fell to 4.4% in December. Unemployment across all industries remained unchanged at 3.7% last month.

Construction Employment Statistics December 2023

“Despite strong construction industry employment growth, today’s jobs report was highly contradictory,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “On one hand, economywide payroll employment expanded faster than expected in December, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7%, close to the lowest level in over a half a century. Construction employment increased for the ninth consecutive month, with the nonresidential segment adding jobs at a particularly rapid pace.

“On the other hand, the labor force shrank by 676,000 persons in December, the largest decline since early 2021,” said Basu. “Wage growth also accelerated, with average hourly earnings up 4.1% year over year across all industries. That’s faster than expected and a level not consistent with a return to 2% inflation. Construction industry earnings have increased at an even faster rate over the past year.

Construction Employment Growth Dec 2022 vs. Dec 2023

“This is only one month’s data and could contain significant statistical noise,” said Basu. “That said, the combination of faster wage growth and a smaller labor force suggests that interest rates could remain higher for longer.”