Construction Employment Rose to 7.56M in December

Washington, DC, January 12, 2022-Construction employment, seasonally adjusted, totaled 7,560,000 in December, an increase of 22,000 from the upwardly revised November total and a gain of 160,000 (2.2%) year-over-year from December 2020, according to Associated General Contractor’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. 

Nevertheless, the December total was 88,000 (-1.2%) below the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020. 

Residential construction employment, comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors, dipped by 4,100 in December, putting the total 82,000 (2.7%) higher than in February 2020. 

Nonresidential construction employment-building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction-increased for the fourth-straight month, by 27,000. But nonresidential employment remains 169,000 (-3.6%) below the February 2020 level. Nonresidential employment has regained only 74% of the jobs it lost between February and April 2020, compared to 84% for total nonfarm payroll employment and 117% for residential construction. 

A total of 497,000 former construction workers were unemployed in December, a drop of 433,000 (-47%) year over year. 

The industry’s unemployment rate tumbled from 9.6%, not seasonally adjusted, in December 2020 to 5.0% last month, tying the lowest December mark since the series began in 2000. Individuals are counted as unemployed only if they have “actively looked for work in the prior four weeks. The huge decrease in the number of unemployed workers-more than the twice the 160,000-job increase in construction employment year over year-suggests construction workers are either finding jobs in other sectors or dropping out of the workforce, at least temporarily.