After no growth in construction employment during June, the industry only managed to add a meager 6,000 jobs in July according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Residential building added 6,000 jobs (about what they lost last month), but nonresidential building construction lost 900 jobs. Heavy and civil engineering construction saw 2,900 jobs added. Residential specialty trade contractors saw 2,200 jobs added but their counterpart on the nonresidential side lost 3,700 jobs.
Construction employment has grown by only 108,000 jobs during the first seven months of 2015 and by 231,000 jobs during the last 12 months. Compare this to the 215,000 jobs added during the first seven months of 2015. This averages out to roughly 15,430 jobs added each month so far in 2015. May’s numbers have been revised again showing only 12,000 jobs added, down from the 15,000 jobs in last month’s report.
Despite the minimal growth in construction employment, the unemployment rate for the industry dropped again to 5.5% in July. It’s unclear if this is due mainly to folks retiring or no longer seeking employment in construction since it’s clear it’s not dropping from job growth. This could be troubling as we finish out the year since many employers are still reporting having labor shortages.
ADP, the Human Capital Management firm, paints a more optimistic picture for construction employment. According to their numbers, which were released on Wednesday, the construction industry added 15,000 jobs in July. June’s numbers were downgraded from 19,000 jobs added to 17,000 jobs added in the construction industry. According to ADP, the construction industry has added 159,000 jobs from January through July and 298,000 jobs over the last 12 months.
ADP has total construction employment at 6,443,000 compared to 6,383,000 reported by the BLS. The difference between total construction employment numbers for the BLS and ADP continues to increase and is currently at 60,000 jobs.
Construction spending continues to increase despite the lack of job growth in construction employment. The skilled labor shortage could start having a real impact on the industry as demand for construction continues to increase. The commercial construction industry needs to focus on a concerted effort to find a solution to luring and training workers for careers in construction.