ARLINGTON, VA. — U.S. construction firms added 25,000 employees in January and raised wages for hourly workers more steeply than other sectors, according to analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Association officials said the industry was benefitting from relatively strong demand for construction projects as firms struggle to fill available positions in the sector.
Construction employment totalled a record 7.8 million, seasonally adjusted, in January, an increase of 294,000 or 3.9 per cent from a year earlier. That growth rate topped the 3.3 per cent rise in total nonfarm employment.
Nonresidential firms, comprising nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors along with heavy and civil engineering construction firms, added 19,300 employees in January and 179,200 employees or 4.0 per cent over 12 months. Residential building and specialty trade contractors together added 5,500 employees for the month and 114,600 employees or 3.6 per cent over the year.
Pay levels in the construction industry continued to increase in January at a faster pace than in the overall private sector. Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers in construction climbed by 6.2 per cent, from $31.44 in January 2022 to $33.38 last month. That increase exceeded the 5.1 per cent rise in average pay for all private sector production workers.
Workers in construction now earn an average of 18.1 per cent more per hour than in the private sector as a whole.
Job openings in construction at the end of 2022 totalled 359,000, the highest December total in the 23-year history of the data. Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, said that figure reinforced contractors’ reports they are seeking far more workers than they have been able to hire, despite the industry’s large job gains over the past year.
“Construction employment and pay gains outpaced the economy as a whole in the past year, showing that demand for projects remains strong,” said Simonson. “In fact, most contractors would like to hire even more workers and are raising pay in an effort to attract them.”