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Construction Jobs Maintain Monthly Growth but Future Uncertain

Jobs in the construction industry rose minimally in May but garnered a 3% year-over-year (YOY) increase, according to Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). In its assessment of the latest labor statistics data, ABC reported an additional 4,000 net new construction jobs were added in May, while the overall number of jobs increased to 215,000 compared to this time last year.

Residential versus nonresidential construction jobs were divided last month, as the former lost 100 jobs month over month (MoM) but gained 28,800 YOY. Meanwhile, the number of nonresidential jobs in May not only increased by 300 MoM but also grew by 3,000 YOY.

"At the top of the list is a softening global economy," ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu said in an ABC press release. "Among other things, this has helped to limit corporate earnings growth, which, in turn, translates into weaker business spending. Slipping activity in certain key industries has also contributed, including in the U.S. automotive and airplane manufacturing sectors, as well as current trade conflicts."

ABC's report also broke down the construction employment statistics based on heavy and civil engineering, residential specialty trade contractors and nonresidential specialty trade contractors. Compared to April 2019, heavy and civil engineering jobs took a hit in May with a loss of 9,400 jobs yet grew nearly 3% YOY. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors saw the most growth MoM and YOY at 7,600 and 103,000 jobs, respectively. However, residential specialty trade contractors had a 2.5% gain in job YOY.

"For contractors, many of whom have a backlog that will carry them through 2020, this suggests emerging weakness in demand for construction services at some point in 2021 or 2022," Basu noted in the report.

—Andrew Michaels, editorial associate

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Friday, 23 August 2019