Nonresidential construction employment increases

Nonresidential construction employment increased in December by 17,000 despite a 16 percent decrease in overall construction employment. Associated General Contractors of America officials said unseasonably warm weather likely extended the construction season, benefitting construction employment.

“Nonresidential construction is clearly driving last month’s employment gains,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But it is too early to tell whether those gains came because the weather was good enough for crews to keep working well into December or because demand is truly rebounding.”

Total construction employment now stands at 5,544,000, or 0.3 percent, higher than in November and 46,000, or 0.8 percent, higher than in December 2010. However, overall construction employment is still far below its peak level of 7,726,000 in April 2006.

Simonson said the nonresidential construction sector added 17,200 construction jobs in December, while nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 20,200 positions. Heavy and civil engineering construction firms shed 300 jobs, nonresidential building contractors shed 2,700 jobs in December, residential construction lost 400 total jobs and the residential specialty trade contractors shed 2,900 jobs. Residential builder added 2,500 positions in December.