Finishing 2015 with a ninth-consecutive month of employment gains, the U.S. construction industry added 45,000 employees to its workforce in December.
The industry now employs 6.538 million Americans, the highest mark since January 2009’s total of 6.567 million, according to preliminary data from the Labor Department.
Despite the gains, the industry saw unemployment increase from 6.2 percent to 7.5 percent during the month.
The December data also revised November’s job total, upping that month’s mark to 6.493 million, from the previously reported 6.490 million.
Construction added 263,000 workers in 2015, an average of 22,000 per month. The December total represents a 4-percent increase in the industry’s workforce over the December 2014 mark.
However, total employment gains were down compared to 2014. That year, the industry added 338,000 workers, an average of 28,000 workers per month, and saw a workforce increase of 5.6 percent over 2013.
The United States added 292,000 jobs during December and unemployment remained at 5 percent.