Construction companies added 20,000 employees in November and continued to raise wages for hourly workers as the industry’s unemployment rate tumbled, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) of new government data. Association officials said the data shows that firms would have added significantly more workers if they could find more people to hire.
Construction employment totaled a record-high 7,750,000 in November, an increase of 20,000 for the month and 248,000 or 3.3 percent from a year earlier. Nonresidential firms—comprising nonresidential building and specialty trade contractors along with heavy and civil engineering construction firms—added 16,300 employees in November. Residential building and specialty trade contractors together added 3,900 employees.
Pay levels in the construction industry continued to increase in November at a faster pace than in the overall private sector. Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers in construction—mostly hourly craft workers—climbed by 6.1 percent, from $31.04 in November 2021 to $32.94 last month. That increase exceeded the 5.8 percent rise in average pay for all private sector production workers. Such workers in construction now earn an average of 17.2 percent more per hour than in the private sector as a whole.
The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience decreased from 4.7 percent in November 2021 to 3.9 percent last month, tying the 2018 rate for the lowest ever for November. The number of unemployed construction workers fell by 16 percent, from 469,000 in November 2021 to 393,000 in November of 2022.