According to an analysis of new construction employment figures released Sept. 4 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction workers nationwide continue to bear the brunt of the recession, accounting for almost one-third of jobs lost this August. The Associated General Contractors of America’s economist noted that these new figures underscore how the current economic climate is having a disproportionate impact on the construction industry.
Ken Simonson, chief economist at Associated General Contractors of America, stated that construction employment across the country declined by 65,000 jobs this August, and construction workers accounted for 30 percent of the total nonfarm job losses reported for the month, though the industry only accounts for 5 percent of the workforce.
A total of 1.4 million construction workers have lost their jobs since the beginning of the recessions, and Simonson notes that the unemployment rate among construction workers is now 16.5 percent (not seasonally adjusted), while the overall unemployment rate is 9.6 percent (not seasonally adjusted). The August numbers also showed that nonresidential construction accounts for a greater share of the industry’s job losses than residential construction – nearly 43,000 nonresidential construction workers lost their jobs, compared to 22,600 residential construction workers who were laid off in August.
“It is time for federal agencies to convert stimulus project announcements into actual contracts and construction activity,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Congress also needs to look for ways to encourage the kind of sustained private economic growth that will generate significant new construction activity.”