As recently reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the construction industry has added 45,000 jobs in the month of April. Along with the job increase, the construction unemployment rate has dropped to 7.5% from the previous month’s rate of 9.4%, as well as the April 2014 rate of 9.5%. Last month’s rate of 7.5% was the industry’s best April figure in the past nine years, when the unemployment rate was 6.9% in 2006. As most of the industry’s employment increase came from specialty trade contracting (41,000 jobs), the nonresidential building sector lost 7,800 jobs in April, even after a loss of 1,200 jobs the previous month.
A few of the industry’s leading economists commented on the data given in the BLS report and what could be expected in the coming months. According to Anirban Basu, chief economist for Associated Builders and Contractors, the surge of job gains last month exceeded all expectations, and that “[c]onstruction spending should expand in the coming months as projects that were delayed during winter come to fruition.” Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, also said the employment expansion in April was strong, particularly after the drop off in March. “Nevertheless, job growth remains spotty with the nonresidential building sector losing jobs even as other construction sectors expanded,” added Simonson. Robert Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics, expanded on the job losses within nonresidential building, noting that since the sector had seen such a large job growth between December 2014 and February 2015, “the declines in March and April can be viewed as returning employment levels to a more sustainable pace.” With that said, Murray remains optimistic for the nonresidential building sector, as building starts for commercial and institutional projects recorded double-digit increases in 2014.