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BLS: Construction Hiring Surged in July

Aug. 9, 2022
Exceeding expectations, firms added 32,000 jobs nationally as industry unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% while job openings neared record levels.


WASHINGTON, DC  AUG. 5, 2022 — The U.S. construction industry added 32,000 jobs in July, according to monthly employment data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

As a result, the sector's unemployment rate fell to 3.5% and the number of unfilled construction positions across the U.S. neared record levels, according to separate analyses of the data offered by rival industry groups Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). On a year-over-year basis, industry employment has increased by 311,000 jobs, or 4.2%.

“Today’s employment report was expected to show an economy not yet in recession but at least headed in that direction,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Shockingly, that did not come to pass, as U.S. employers added 528,000 jobs in July, more than twice the consensus forecast of 250,000, and the unemployment rate across all industries fell to 3.5%, tied for the lowest rate since the late 1960s."

Total construction employment moved up to 7,706,000 in July as both residential and nonresidential construction firms added jobs for the month, according to BLS. Nonresidential firms added 18,300 employees, including 4,900 at general building contractors, 10,300 at nonresidential specialty trade contractors, and 3,100 at heavy and civil engineering construction firms. Employment in residential construction—homebuilders, multifamily general contractors, and residential specialty trade contractors—increased by 14,100 between June and July.

"Construction firms are doing their best to add new workers to keep pace with strong demand for construction," said AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr. "Despite the month's big gains, the industry's job gains would have been even higher if there were more people available to hire."

The unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience fell from 6.1% in July 2021 to 3.5% in July 2022 month, Sandherr noted. He added that the construction unemployment rate is at the lowest July level in four years. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed construction workers fell by 233,000, or 39%, to 359,000. 

Sandherr added that as the number of unemployed construction workers declined, job openings in construction surged. There were 330,000 job openings in construction at the end of June, which is the second highest number of job openings for the month in the 22-year history of the construction industry job opening series.