The U.S. construction industry added 20,000 jobs in November, with nonresidential construction contributing 4,900 of them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimate released Dec. 5. October’s overall construction estimate was revised downward from 12,000 to 7,000 net new jobs and nonresidential construction lost 2,100 jobs in October, after revisions.

“Nonresidential construction added nearly 5,000 jobs in November and the outlook remains positive,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “It is important to note that the greatest constraint on nonresidential job growth may no longer be a lack of demand for construction services, but rather a lack of supply of sufficiently skilled workers. Growing demand for human capital coupled with tighter labor markets strongly suggests that industry wage pressures will expand in 2015, perhaps to the extent that margins will be rendered too thin for many firms, even in the face of rising demand for services.

“While the national construction unemployment rate expanded from 6.4 percent to 7.5 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in November, this is primarily due to seasonal factors,” Basu explained. “The construction unemployment rate has historically expanded during the colder months of the year, and November’s figure should not be seen as a cause for concern.

“The U.S. economy has shifted into a higher gear,” said Basu. “A combination of surging stock prices, lower energy costs, rising consumer confidence, solid job creation, and improvement in the quality of jobs being added has helped move the economy closer to a sustained 3 percent rate of growth. For the most part, this represents good news for the nonresidential construction industry.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey, the national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.8 percent in November. The labor force once again expanded in October, growing by 119,000 persons. After shrinking in August and September, the labor force has now expanded in consecutive months. The labor force participation rate remained unchanged at 62.8 percent in November.

Construction employment for the month and the past year breaks down as follows:

  • Nonresidential building construction employment fell by 2,400 jobs for the month but is up by 9,500 jobs, or 1.4 percent, since November 2013.
  • Residential building construction employment expanded by 3,400 jobs in November and is up by 47,300 jobs, or 7.5 percent, on an annual basis.
  • Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 7,300 jobs for the month and employment in that category is up by 47,400 jobs, or 2.2 percent, from the same time one year ago.
  • Residential specialty trade contractors gained 13,300 jobs in November and have added 75,500 jobs, or 4.8 percent, since November 2013.
  • The heavy and civil engineering construction segment lost 1,300 jobs in November and job totals are up by 33,200, or 3.7, percent on a year-over-year basis.