Construction jobs in U.S. hits highest level since Great Recession

SNOW REMOVAL: A Shawmut Construction worker shovels snow from the work site at 225 Dyer St. in Providence. Construction crews must deal with the winter elements to meet project deadlines. / PBN PHOTO/­
RUPERT WHITELEY
DESPITE OFTEN DIFFICULT winter conditions, construction employment added 36,000 workers in January on a month-to-month basis to reach the highest level since August 2008, just before the nation plunged into the Great Recession. / PBN FILE PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

PROVIDENCE – The construction industry saw an increase of 36,000 jobs in January, bringing the total number of construction jobs to 7.1 million, according to a press release from the Associated General Contractors of America. This is the highest amount of employment the industry has seen since 2008.

Industry employment saw a 3.3 percent overall increase in 2017, with 226,000 new jobs being created over the year.

Average hourly earnings in the industry saw a 2.9 percent increase in 2017, rising to $29.33. The industry’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent in January, a decline from 9.4 percent in January 2017.

With the lower unemployment, it may be more difficult for some projects to find workers.

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“The outlook remains positive for further growth in the industry. But finding workers to complete all projects will be a challenge with unemployment so low overall in construction,” said Ken Simonson, AGCA’s chief economist.

The AGCA also praised President Donald Trump’s push to spend $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years to bolster infrastructure.

“Bringing our aging infrastructure back to a state of good repair will support short-term economic growth while making our economy more efficient and competitive over the long-term,” said AGCA CEO Stephen E. Sandheer in a statement.

Lauren Aratani is a PBN contributing writer.