Construction employment increases slightly in September

October 12, 2021

Construction employment added 22,000 jobs on net in September, according to Overall, the industry has recovered 912,000—81.9%—of the jobs lost during earlier stages of the pandemic.

The construction unemployment rate fell from 4.6% in August to 4.5% in September. The national unemployment rate for all industries decreased from 5.2% in August to 4.8% in September as the U.S. economy added 194,000 jobs.

Nonresidential construction added 18,600 jobs in September, with all three subcategories registering gains for the month. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 11,400 jobs; nonresidential building added 4,100 jobs; and heavy and civil engineering added 3,100 jobs.

Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu said the economy added well below the consensus forecast of 500,000, suggesting the final stages of the labor market recovery will be extremely challenging.

“The ongoing labor shortage puts continued upward pressure on the price of delivering construction services,” Basu said. “Along with input shortages and rising materials prices, this is placing the recovery of nonresidential construction spending at risk. Based on ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator, a growing chorus of project owners are choosing to delay projects and, in some instances, cancel them altogether. The primary issue is that bids are coming in too high to justify the deployment of capital under many circumstances.

“Despite adding jobs on net in September, construction industry employment remains below March 2021 levels, and recent economic data suggest that some fraction of the confidence contractors have been expressing in recent months is unjustified,” Basu continued. “Inflationary pressures are slowing the pace of recovery in nonresidential construction, and with global supply chains in disarray and employers suffering ongoing difficulty filling openings, industry challenges will persist into 2022. At some point, however, the labor market should begin to normalize as people experience growing difficulty paying their bills and global supply chain dynamics eventually improve.”

Tags: Workforce | Trends


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