Construction employment remained mired in a five-year-long slump as the industry shed another 9,000 jobs from May to June, according to an analysis of new federal employment data recently released by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Association officials said that declines in public-sector construction activity will negate any pickup in private sector demand unless Congress and the states promptly and fully fund needed infrastructure spending and streamline the approval process for public projects.
The industry unemployment rate fell from 20.1% a year ago to 15.6% in June 2011, said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. However, Simonson noted that the June 2011 employment total of 5,513,000 was only 2,000 higher than in June 2010 and more than 2.2 million, or 29%, below the peak in April 2006.
“Even with the drop in the industry unemployment rate, the lack of hiring means that people are leaving construction, not going back into it,” Simonson said. “That will make future expansion all the more difficult.”
The construction economist noted that employment in heavy and civil engineering construction—the segment that had previously added jobs as a result of federal funding for stimulus, military base realignment and Gulf Coast hurricane protection projects—shrank for the second month in a row, by 1,800 jobs, although the June 2011 total was 23,000 jobs or 2.8% higher than a year earlier.
Residential building and specialty trade employment dropped a combined 9,900 jobs in June and 35,000, or 1.7%, over the past 12 months.