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Construction sector adds 39,000 jobs between February and March: Increases in every residential and non-residential category

Washington Construction News staff writer

The construction industry added 39,000 jobs in March—the most since January 2023—with gains among all five types of residential and nonresidential categories, according to an of new government data the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America released on April 5. Association officials cautioned, however, that firms are still coping with significant labor shortages that are undermining broader growth in the sector.

“All types of construction firms were hiring in March,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But the record number of construction job openings at the end of February indicates contractors would have hired even more workers if they were available to keep pace with demand.”

Construction employment in March totaled 8,211,000, seasonally adjusted, a gain of 39,000 from the upwardly revised February total. The sector has added 270,000 jobs during the past 12 months, a 3.4 percent increase. Residential builders added 2,300 employees in March, while residential specialty trade contractors added 8,900. Employment rose as well among nonresidential construction firms, by 6,000 at building construction firms, 16,300 at specialty trade contractors, and 6,000 at heavy and civil engineering construction firms.

Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees in construction—covering most onsite craft workers as well as many office workers—climbed by 4.9 percent over the year to $35.42 per hour. Construction firms in March provided a wage “premium” of 18.9 percent compared to the average hourly earnings for all private-sector production employees.

One reason for the rapid wage gains is that the industry continues to struggle to find enough workers to hire. Simonson noted that a different federal report released earlier showed there were 414,000 job openings at the end of February, the highest number of open positions yet recorded for the month.

Association officials said those labor shortages were making it harder for firms to take on new projects and complete existing ones on schedule. They urged federal officials to narrow the substantial gap between what it invests in education and training programs for fields like construction and what it spends urging most students to go to college and work in an office environment. They also urged Congress and the Biden administration to explore ways to allow more people to lawfully enter the country who are qualified to work in construction.

“Based on funding levels and immigration policy, the federal government is discouraging American workers from pursuing construction careers while refusing to welcome those born elsewhere,” said Jeffrey Shoaf, the association’s chief executive officer. “We need an all-of-the-above instead of a none-of-the-above approach when it comes to encouraging more people to pursue the many high-paying construction career opportunities that are available today.”

View the construction employment .

Mark Buckshon
Mark Buckshonhttps://washingtonconstructionnews.com
Mark Buckshon is the publisher and interim editor of Washington Construction News. He is also president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He combines a journalism and business background, and has published construction trade publications for more than 30 years, after an earlier career in journalism, which culminated when he lived through the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe in 1978-80 as a sub-editor for the Bulawayo Chronicle and a correspondent for a Canadian news service.

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