The national unemployment rate for the construction industry rose to 17.1 percent as another 64,000 construction workers lost their jobs in September, according to an analysis of new employment data released today. With 80 percent of layoffs occurring in nonresidential construction, Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, said the decline in nonresidential construction has eclipsed housing’s problems.
“The housing industry may be stabilizing, but the broader construction crisis is only getting worse,” Simonson said. “While the stimulus is helping slow the decline, it’s clearly far from enough to reverse sweeping industry-wide layoffs on its own.”
Simonson said the new September employment data assembled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 50,800 layoffs in the nonresidential construction sector this September, while there were 13,300 fewer workers in the residential construction sector during the same period. He added that over the last year, 649,800 nonresidential construction workers were laid off while 443,000 residential workers lost their jobs.
He added that since December 2007, residential and nonresidential construction employment shrank by 1.5 million. In other words, one out of every five people working in construction in 2007 has lost their job, Simonson added.
“When you’ve got skilled carpenters using their hard hats to panhandle on the streets of Reno, something’s not working,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, who met with contractors and construction workers in the Nevada city earlier this week to release a new industry recovery plan. “It’s time to put in place commonsense, pro-growth policies that will get workers back to hammering nails instead of collecting quarters.”
Sandherr said the association is calling for a series of tax credits, incentives and deductions designed to boost demand for private-sector construction activity that represents the bulk of the construction market. The plan also calls for programmatic new investments in infrastructure and policy revisions designed to jump start needed work on highways and transit systems, water systems, federal building and new sources of renewable energy.
To learn more about the recovery plan, “Build Now for the Future, A Blueprint for Economic Recovery," visit: http://www.agc.org/cs/blueprint_for_economic_growth