flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
catfish1 - bottom
Currently Reading

Construction employment dips in January despite record rise in wages, falling unemployment

Market Data

Construction employment dips in January despite record rise in wages, falling unemployment

The quest for workers intensifies among industries.


By AGC | February 4, 2022
Construciton equipment

Courtesy Pixabay

Construction employment dipped by 5,000 jobs between December and January even though hourly pay rose at a record pace in the past year, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government data released today. Association officials said future job gains are at risk from several factors that are slowing projects, as detailed in the Construction Inflation Alert that it will post on February 7.

“Contractors are struggling to fill positions as potential workers opt out of the labor market or choose other industries,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In addition, soaring materials costs and unpredictable delivery times are delaying projects and holding back employment gains.”

Simonson noted that average hourly earnings in the construction industry increased 5.1% from January 2021 to last month--the steepest 12-month increase in the 15-year history of the series. The industry average of $33.80 per hour exceeded the private sector average by nearly 7%. However, competition for workers has intensified as other industries have hiked starting pay and offered working conditions that are not possible in construction, such as flexible hours or work from home.

Since January 2021 the industry has added 163,000 employees despite the decline last month. But the number of unemployed jobseekers among former construction workers shrank by 229,000 over that time, indicating workers are leaving the workforce altogether or taking jobs in other sectors, Simonson added.

Construction employment totaled 7,523,000 last month, which was 101,000 jobs or 1.3% less than in pre-pandemic peak month of February 2020. However, the totals mask large differences between residential and nonresidential segments of the industry, Simonson said.

Nonresidential construction firms--general building contractors, specialty trade contractors, and heavy and civil engineering construction firms--lost 9,000 employees in January. Nonresidential employment remains 213,000 below the pre-pandemic peak set in February 2020. In contrast, employment in residential construction--comprising homebuilding and remodeling firms--edged up by 4,400 jobs in January and topped the February 2020 level by 112,000.

Association officials said the Construction Hiring and Business Outlook survey that it released in January showed most contractors expect to add employees in 2022 but overwhelmingly find it difficult to find qualified workers. The association will shortly post an updated Construction Inflation Alert to inform owners, officials, and others about the challenges the industry is experiencing with employment, materials costs, and delays.

“Construction firms are struggling to find workers to hire even as they are being forced to cope with rising materials prices and ongoing supply chain disruptions,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “But instead of addressing those challenges, the Biden administration is adding to these problems with a new executive order that will inflate the cost of construction, discriminate against most workers and undermine the collective bargaining process.”

View the construction employment table. View the association’s Outlook survey.

Related Stories

K-12 Schools | Feb 29, 2024

Average age of U.S. school buildings is just under 50 years

The average age of a main instructional school building in the United States is 49 years, according to a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). About 38% of schools were built before 1970. Roughly half of the schools surveyed have undergone a major building renovation or addition.

MFPRO+ Research | Feb 27, 2024

Most competitive rental markets of early 2024

The U.S. rental market in early 2024 is moderately competitive, with apartments taking an average of 41 days to find tenants, according to the latest RentCafe Market Competitivity Report.

Construction Costs | Feb 22, 2024

K-12 school construction costs for 2024

Data from Gordian breaks down the average cost per square foot for four different types of K-12 school buildings (elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools, and vocational schools) across 10 U.S. cities.

Student Housing | Feb 21, 2024

Student housing preleasing continues to grow at record pace

Student housing preleasing continues to be robust even as rent growth has decelerated, according to the latest Yardi Matrix National Student Housing Report.

Architects | Feb 21, 2024

Architecture Billings Index remains in 'declining billings' state in January 2024

Architecture firm billings remained soft entering into 2024, with an AIA/Deltek Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score of 46.2 in January. Any score below 50.0 indicates decreasing business conditions.

Multifamily Housing | Feb 14, 2024

Multifamily rent remains flat at $1,710 in January

The multifamily market was stable at the start of 2024, despite the pressure of a supply boom in some markets, according to the latest Yardi Matrix National Multifamily Report.

Student Housing | Feb 13, 2024

Student housing market expected to improve in 2024

The past year has brought tough times for student housing investment sales due to unfavorable debt markets. However, 2024 offers a brighter outlook if debt conditions improve as predicted.

Contractors | Feb 13, 2024

The average U.S. contractor has 8.4 months worth of construction work in the pipeline, as of January 2024

Associated Builders and Contractors reported today that its Construction Backlog Indicator declined to 8.4 months in January, according to an ABC member survey conducted from Jan. 22 to Feb. 4. The reading is down 0.6 months from January 2023.

Industry Research | Feb 8, 2024

New multifamily development in 2023 exceeded expectations

Despite a problematic financing environment, 2023 multifamily construction starts held up “remarkably well” according to the latest Yardi Matrix report.

Market Data | Feb 7, 2024

New download: BD+C's February 2024 Market Intelligence Report

Building Design+Construction's monthly Market Intelligence Report offers a snapshot of the health of the U.S. building construction industry, including the commercial, multifamily, institutional, and industrial building sectors. This report tracks the latest metrics related to construction spending, demand for design services, contractor backlogs, and material price trends.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category

K-12 Schools

Average age of U.S. school buildings is just under 50 years

The average age of a main instructional school building in the United States is 49 years, according to a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). About 38% of schools were built before 1970. Roughly half of the schools surveyed have undergone a major building renovation or addition.




halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021