Construction industry outpaces overall economy in adding jobs

In a trend that has continued for a decade, the construction industry outpaced the overall economy in adding jobs in November, accounting for 37,000 of the 215,000 new nonfarm jobs nationwide, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

“A small piece of the gain, primarily in heavy and civil engineering, is attributable to reconstruction after the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America. “But the industry added 32,000 jobs in August, almost as many as before Katrina hit.”

The construction industry added 296,000 workers during the past year, an increase of more than 4 percent from the number of jobs in November 2004. That growth compares to only a 1.5 percent rate of increase for the overall economy.

All segments of construction are sharing in the gains. Employment in residential specialty trades and heavy and civil engineering construction grew 6 percent, residential building construction employment grew 4 percent, and nonresidential specialty trades and building construction rose 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Even though employment in the construction industry grew 36.7 percent from 1994 to 2004, that rate of increase is not likely to continue. A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts construction employment will grow by only 11.4 percent in the next decade while overall employment growth increases 14.8 percent.