The latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was released this morning and the construction industry added 18,000 jobs in January. This is a bit of a letdown since the industry added an impressive 146,000 jobs during the final quarter of 2015. October (33,000), November (65,000) and December (48,000) for nearly half of the 296,000 jobs added in 2015. Total non-farm payrolls only increased by 151,000 jobs in January compared to the 262,000 jobs added in December.
The construction of buildings and residential specialty trades contractors had the highest gains in construction, adding 12,800 and 12,600 jobs respectively. Heavy and civil engineering construction shed 5,200 jobs in January and nonresidential specialty trades contractors dropped 2,400 jobs.
The unemployment rate for the construction industry increased again in January, increasing from 7.5% in December to 8.5% to start off the year. The last Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from November 2015 shows the construction industry had 359,000 hires, 128,000 quits and 135,000 openings. These numbers are all seasonally adjusted.
ADP, the Human Capital Management firm, reported a slightly better number for the construction industry in January with 21,000 jobs added. Jobs added in December was revised up from 24,000 to 31,000 and November’s estimate was moved up from 4,000 to 6,000 jobs added.
The BLS has total construction employment at 6,615,000 which is pretty much in line with the ADP total of 6,568,000 jobs. This is a difference of about 47,000 jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics have made changes to the Employment Situation data with updates to their seasonal adjustment factors and revisions to their annual benchmarking process. They also are using updated population estimates starting in January 2016.
Construction spending is expected to grow by 8% to 9% this year so we should see solid growth in construction employment in 2016. There are still a lot of areas across the country experiencing difficulties in finding workers. That trend, unfortunately, will likely continue throughout the year.