Florida Construction News staff writer
The construction sector across the U.S. added 15,000 jobs in April while the sector’s unemployment rate fell to a record low for the month and the number of unfilled construction positions is close to a monthly high, according to an analysis of new government data the Associated General Contractors of America released today. Association officials said the industry likely would have added even more positions if contractors could find more qualified workers.
“Contractors can’t find, reach, hire and train workers fast enough to keep pace with demand,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “The pool of qualified, available labor is the smallest the industry has ever seen for the month of April.”
Construction employment in April topped 7.9 million, seasonally adjusted, an addition of 15,000 or 0.2 percent from the month prior. Non-residential construction firms—non-residential building and specialty trade contractors along with heavy and civil engineering construction firms—added only 800 employees in April. Meanwhile, employment at residential building and specialty trade contractors grew by 14,200 or 0.4 percent.
The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experienced declined from 4.6 percent in April 2022 to 4.1 percent, the lowest April rate in the 23-year history of the data. A separate government report released earlier this week reported that job openings in construction at the end of March totaled 355,000, just shy of the all-time high for March of 359,000.
Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees in construction—covering most onsite craft workers as well as many office workers—jumped by 6.7 percent over the year to $33.94 per hour. Construction firms in April provided a wage “premium” of nearly 19 percent compared to the average hourly earnings for all private-sector production employees.
“Federal officials are making massive investments in infrastructure even while their funding policies actively discourage most future workers from considering careers in construction,” Sandherr said. “They don’t seem to want our citizens to work in construction even while they block people from other countries from lawfully entering the profession.”
Construction employment data and graphs are available here.