New York Construction Report staff writer
The construction industry added 11,000 jobs in January despite bouts of exceptionally cold or stormy weather that delayed projects in numerous regions, according to an analysis of new government data. Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America officials noted that firms are boosting wages to attract more workers as firms try to keep pace with relatively strong demand.
“Although job gains were modest last month, other evidence suggests there is still lots of demand for workers,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Wages rose faster than in other sectors, job openings at the end of 2023 were at near-record levels for December, and construction spending jumped that month.”
Construction employment in January totaled 8,137,000, seasonally adjusted, an increase of 11,000 or 0.1 percent from December. The sector has added 216,000 jobs during the past 12 months, a gain of 2.7 percent. Residential building and specialty trade contractors added 2,700 employees in January and 60,100 (1.8 percent) over 12 months.
Employment at nonresidential construction firms—nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors along with heavy and civil engineering construction firms—climbed by 7,600 positions for the month and 155,100 (3.3 percent) since January 2023.
Construction firms in December provided a wage “premium” of nearly 19 percent compared to the average hourly earnings for all private-sector production employees.
Government reports on job openings and construction spending earlier this week show demand for construction workers and projects remains strong, the economist said. Job openings at the end of December totaled 374,000, exceeding the 227,000 workers hired and showing contractors want to hire far more workers than they are able to find, Simonson said.
Association officials noted that too few workers are choosing to pursue careers in construction, despite the sector’s high wages.
“Considering most construction positions don’t require a college degree, construction careers offer an almost certain path to economic security,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Yet too few workers are ever exposed to the many career opportunities available to them in construction as policy makers continue to urge everyone to go to college instead.”