Construction employment had its strongest showing so far this year to finish out the first quarter of 2016 with 37,000 jobs added in March. February’s estimate was revised up from 19,000 to 20,000 and January’s total also was revised up from 15,000 to 18,000 jobs added, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This brings the total number of jobs added in construction during first quarter 2016 to 75,000. Construction employment has increased by 301,000 jobs over the past 12 months. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 215,000 jobs in March, down a bit from the 245,000 jobs added in February.
The big winners in March were for specialty trade contractors where employment rose by 18,100. The bulk of that gain was for residential specialty trade contractors which added 11,600 jobs. Heavy and civil engineering construction had a strong month with 11,200 jobs added, compared to only 2,400 in February, proof that road construction season is upon us. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 6,500 jobs in March after shedding 2,700 the month prior. For the construction of buildings, the residential side added 1,800 jobs and the nonresidential side added 6,200.
The unemployment rate for construction remained unchanged at 8.7% for March. It had been steadily increasing over the past several months going from 5.5% in September to 8.7% in February. The construction industry had 295,000 hires, 81,000 quits and 185,000 openings according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from January 2016. These numbers are all seasonally adjusted.
ADP, the Human Capital Management firm, released their employment report for March 2016 on Wednesday and they have construction adding a modest 17,000 jobs for the month. February’s totals for construction were revised down from 27,000 to 24,000 jobs added. Similarly, January’s total was also revised down to 24,000 jobs added from 26,000. According to ADP, construction employment increased by 65,000 jobs during the first quarter and by 236,000 over the past year. Total private sector employment was up 200,000 jobs.
The BLS has total construction employment at 6,672,000 and ADP has it slightly lower at 6,607,000 jobs, a difference of about 65,000 jobs. It appears spring has come early, which is always good for the construction industry. Strong job growth in March means activity is picking up and should heat up along with the temperatures as we head into the second quarter of the year.