Construction Among Industries with Highest Job Growth for August

Engineer teams meeting working together wear worker helmets hardhat on construction site in modern city. Asian industry professional team in sun light

Construction job growth in August ranked fourth among employment sectors adding 22,000 jobs to the month’s total of 187,000 non-farm jobs. Only health care (with a whopping increase of 71,000), leisure/hospitality (40,000) and social assistance (26,000) showed more growth last month, according to the latest report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

With the August numbers, construction employment is now approaching 8 million workers, and last month’s numbers are slightly higher than the 12-month average of 17,000 jobs per month. Associated Builders and Contractors (AGC) analysis indicated that, from a year ago, construction employment has risen by 2.7% with 212,000 jobs created over the last 12 months, compared to an overall growth rate of 2.0% for non-farm jobs over the same period.

The greatest increase is found in nonresidential construction employment with 21,000 of the 22,000 August jobs attributed to nonresidential firms, with 12,100 new nonresidential specialty trade positions, 7,100 heavy and civil engineering spots, and 1,800 nonresidential building jobs. Nonresidential construction firms added a total of 169,700 jobs since July 2022, coming in at a 3.7% rate of growth.

Broadening the lens from construction to the greater employment landscape, the 187,000 non-farm payroll positions exceeds Refinitiv’s projection of 170,000 new jobs, but despite the total coming in above expectations, the August numbers indicate some slowdown in the market. Additionally, June and July numbers were revised down, suggesting a weaker market than previously thought. June initially showed 185,000 new jobs but was dropped to 105,000; July went from 187,000 to 157,000.

With the downward adjustments to the numbers from June and July, the average monthly gain for the previous three months comes in closer to 150,000 jobs, which is below the March through May average of 238,000. Additionally, August numbers traditionally see sharp revisions –– albeit more often upward –– because of the volatility of summer’s last month, so estimates and final counts for August can differ wildly, though that is speculative as of now. For instance, the final jobs number for August 2021 was more than twice the initial count, but 2022 numbers changed very little.

The 2023 summer numbers are now closer to 449,000 jobs added and, despite being the lowest three-month total since the pandemic, still indicate a resilient labor market but one more in line with the monthly average of the 10 years before COVID. The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell explained to PBS NewsHour that the market is still healthy and offers a reminder of the singularly unique situation of the economy since 2020. “These are not the same kind of gangbusters job growth numbers that we saw earlier when the economy was first reopening,” she said, “But those kinds of numbers were never sustainable. So, a pace along the lines of what we had last month is generally a healthy pace.”

So despite a cooldown from the previous monthly average of 271,000 jobs over 12 months, there does not seem to be cause for alarm. Nick Bunker from the Indeed Hiring Lab said the market simply “continues to come back to earth.”

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