Construction Unemployment Set Record Low in December

Construction employment capped off a strong 2019 by setting new records for unemployment.

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Construction employment ended what was a strong year for the industry as a whole on an upward trend, increasing by 20,000 jobs in December according to analysis of government data by the AGC. Those 20,000 jobs added to a total of 151,000 jobs added throughout 2019, marking a 2 percent increase from the year before.

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The number of unemployed workers with recent construction experience and the unemployment rate for workers with recent construction experience were the lowest ever recorded for December, coming in at 489,000 and 5 percent, respectively.

Contractors remain optimistic heading into the new year and report that they intend to keep adding workers in 2020. According to a recent survey conducted by the AGC, nearly 80 percent of the construction firms surveyed say that they plan on were having a hard time filling both salaried and hourly positions in 2019. Most expect finding skilled laborers to fill roles to be just as hard in the new year.

“Contractors are confident that there will be plenty of projects in 2020,” said AGC chief economist Ken Simonson. “Our survey found that for each of 13 project types, more contractors expect an increase in 2020 than a decrease in the dollar value of projects they compete for.”

That optimistic sentiment was matched by a recent report from the National Association of Home Builders, which indicated that homebuilder’s confidence in the market is the highest it has been since June 1999.

“Market conditions for single-family starts are positive, given a lack of resale inventory, low interest rates and a solid job market,” said Greg Ugalde, NAHB chairman. “Builder confidence points to additional gains as we look forward.”