Construction employment near 14-year low; 21,000 jobs lost in September

October 11, 2010

Arlington, Va., — The number of people working in construction is approaching a 14-year low now that the industry lost 21,000 jobs in September, while construction unemployment is at a September high of 17.2 percent, according to an analysis of federal employment figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. The construction industry continues to suffer from declining investments in construction and broad uncertainty about the future of many federal infrastructure programs and tax rates, association officials noted.

“It has taken less than four years to erase a decade’s worth of job gains as the industry suffers from declining private, state and local construction demand,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “No other sector of the economy has suffered as much for as long as construction.”

Simonson noted that the 5.6 million people working in construction today is barely higher than the 5.59 million people who were working in construction in August 1996. He added that construction employment continued to lag behind other sectors of the economy. For example, while total private employment rose by 593,000 during the past 12 months, the construction industry lost 210,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the industry’s unemployment rate is nearly double the unadjusted national rate of 9.2 percent.

Most of September’s construction job losses came from the nonresidential sector as demand for commercial facilities and infrastructure projects remains weak, Simonson noted. Residential construction lost 2,500 jobs last month while nonresidential construction lost 18,100 jobs. Nonresidential specialty trade contractors were the hardest hit, having lost 19,500 jobs in September, the economist added.

Association officials noted that construction spending figures released late last month show private, state and local construction spending continues to decline. And while federal spending has increased, most of those investments have come from temporary programs like the stimulus and military base realignment programs.

While these temporary federal programs have helped the industry, many contractors are reluctant to expand payrolls while long-term federal programs that fund highway, transit, water system and aviation related construction remain in limbo, association officials said. They added that most contractors don’t even know what their tax rates will be for next year.

“Construction firms aren’t going to start hiring again until they can predict how busy they’ll be,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Frankly it is hard for contractors to make any business decisions when they don’t know how much they’ll make or how much they’ll owe.


Comments on: "Construction employment near 14-year low; 21,000 jobs lost in September"


New structural frame reinforcing methods adds jobs!

Hurricane Katrina is the first major destructive hurricane I can remember that the Construction Industry totally ignored the need for better building/structure frame performance in wind and seismic conditions. I believe this has led to mass losses of confidence with the construction industry from investors, lenders, communities, customers, and governments. Not responding to the loss of 215,000 houses along the gulfcoast with an effort or method of improving the structural safety of houses and commercial buildings shows a disinterest from the house and commercial building manufactures and producers in the product quality and in their Customers' well beings, not too trusting of a response to Katrina and other destructive events. It may be the time in history to seriously look into continuous structural frame reinforcing methods as a way to improve buildings and structures and regorow the construction industry. Please check out my innovations in simple, easy to install, and structural performance improving Structural Steel Strap-Nets & Extensions (Registered) for one solutionary path. Website url: