The U.S. construction industry added 48,000 jobs in January, posting its highest employment gain since before the start of the recession, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the last seven years, January’s gains only rank second to February 2007 when the industry added 80,000 jobs. That huge gain preceded a 29-month streak of job losses beginning in June of that year.
January’s gains bring the number of Americans employed in construction to 5.922 million—3 percent higher than in January 2013. It’s the highest employment number the industry has seen since July 2009 when it employed 5.932 million Americans.
The gains also accounted for 42 percent of the 113,000 total jobs added by the U.S. economy for the month.
Despite the job gains, the industry unemployment rate rose a second consecutive month to 12.3 percent. That’s 3.7 points higher than it was just three months ago in November.
The gains followed a 22,000-job loss in December. That figure was revised upward from 16,000.
The national unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent in January, the lowest since October 2008.