Nonresidential construction job growth offsets housing slump, AGC says

August 11, 2010

NONRESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION JOB GROWTH OFFSETS HOUSING SLUMP, AGC SAYS

Engineering Employment Gains Point to Further Strength, Economist Simonson Asserts

Washington, D.C.--"Nonresidential construction employment grew again in
October, belying the notion that the housing slump is dragging down all
construction," Ken Simonson, Chief Economist for The Associated General
Contractors of America (AGC), said today. Simonson was commenting on the
November 2 payroll employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
(BLS). "An acceleration of hiring by architects and engineers suggests
even better news ahead.

"Although total construction employment fell by 5,000 in October,
seasonally adjusted, and 106,000 or 1.4 percent compared to October
2006, all of those losses occurred in homebuilding," Simonson observed.
"The BLS numbers show that over the past 12 months, employment in the
three nonresidential categories--nonresidential building, specialty
trades, plus heavy and civil engineering--climbed 42,000 or 1 percent,"
Simonson commented. "At the same time, employment in residential
building and specialty trades dropped by 148,000 jobs or 4.4 percent.

 "But that estimate greatly understates the actual difference," Simonson
asserted. "Census Bureau figures for September show residential
construction spending was down 16 percent from a year before and
nonresidential was up almost 17 percent. It's likely that residential
employment is actually down roughly 16 percent. That means about 400,000
'residential' specialty trade contractors are now doing nonresidential
electrical, plumbing and other work.

"If these 400,000 workers are added to the nonresidential total,
nonresidential would be up more than 10 percent to its payrolls,
outpacing nearly every other industry," Simonson noted. "That's much
closer to the 17 percent gain in nonresidential construction spending.

"The BLS report shows there is more growth ahead. Architectural and
engineering employment rose 3.7 percent in the past 12 months, triple
the growth in overall nonfarm employment," Simonson pointed out. "Their
output will turn into construction jobs in the next several months,
especially for energy, power and hospital projects."

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is the largest and
oldest national construction trade association in the United States. AGC
represents more than 32,000 firms, including 7,000 of America's leading
general contractors, and over 11,000 specialty-contracting firms. More
than 13,000 service providers and suppliers are associated with AGC
through a nationwide network of chapters.  Visit the AGC Web site at
www.agc.org.  AGC members are "Building Your Quality of Life."
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