April was not a good month for job growth in the construction industry. According to the latest jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction only added 1,000 jobs last month. This is even more disappointing when you compare it to the 41,000 jobs added in March, which was revised up from an initial estimate of 37,000. February’s estimate was revised down from 20,000 to 13,000 jobs added. During the first four months of 2016, the construction industry has added 73,000 jobs. In 2015, the industry had added 108,000 during the same period. Construction employment has increased by 261,000 jobs over the past 12 months. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 160,000 jobs in April.
Not all areas of construction employment shed jobs in April. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 5,500 jobs in April while employment for residential specialty trade contractors shrank by 10,900 jobs. Heavy and civil engineering construction lost 2,200 jobs in April after adding 10,200 in March. For the construction of buildings, 8,200 jobs were added with 7,100 coming from the residential side and 1,100 being added on the nonresidential side.
The unemployment rate for construction dropped to 6.0% in April after remaining unchanged the previous two months at 8.7%. The construction industry had 327,000 hires, 305,000 total separations and 193,000 openings according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from February 2016.
ADP, the Human Capital Management firm, painted a brighter picture for the construction with their April employment report. They show the construction industry adding 14,000 jobs for the month. March’s estimate was revised up from 17,000 to 18,000 jobs added and February was revised up from 24,000 to 26,000 jobs added. According to ADP, construction employment increased by 82,000 jobs during the first four months of 2016 and by 208,000 over the past year. Total private sector employment increased by 156,000 jobs in April.
The BLS has total construction employment at 6,670,000 and ADP has it slightly lower at 6,624,000 jobs, a difference of only 42,000 jobs. March’s construction employment numbers were good, so it’s too early to tell if what we saw in April will continue. The construction industry can ill afford to have consecutive months of job growth, especially since construction should be ramping up as we head into the summer.