Construction Employment Drops Again as 35,000
Workers Lose Jobs in May
June 7, 2010
Construction employment declined in May as 35,000 workers lost
jobs, offsetting most of the increases the industry experienced
in March and April, according to a new analysis of federal employment
figures by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).
Growing stimulus activity was clearly offset by weak private
sector demand and diminished state and local construction budgets
last month, said Ken Simonson, the associations chief
economist. Unfortunately, construction employment is likely
to remain both relatively low and unstable until at least early
Construction employment declined from 5,626,000 to 5,591,000 between
April and May 2010, according to Simonson. Meanwhile the construction
unemployment rate, which is not seasonally adjusted, actually declined
from 21.7 percent to 20.1 percent during the same time period. With
over 1.7 million construction workers unemployed, however, Simonson
noted that the industrys unemployment rate was still more
than double the national rate and was the highest May rate since
the series began in 1976.
Nonresidential construction employment was particularly hard hit
in May, accounting for 28,100, or more than four out of five, of
the jobs lost in construction last month. Citing construction spending
figures released last week, association officials noted that developer-financed
construction investments, including office, retail and multi-family
residential, are down significantly this year.
Given high vacancy rates, private sector construction demand is
likely to remain weak for many more months, association officials
noted, adding that state and local construction demand would remain
soft for even longer considering the budget shortfalls for most
state and municipal governments.
With the temporary stimulus already starting to run its course,
it is time for federal officials to act on the longer term infrastructure
programs that will give construction workers a change to make it
through the protracted construction downturn, said Stephen
Sandherr, the associations chief executive officer. With
construction prices low, now is the perfect time for Washington
to modernize the nations aging transportation, water, and
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