Following 23 consecutive months of job growth, during which the construction industry added 491,000 jobs (including 43,900 jobs in the nonresidential market), construction employment declined in December, losing 9,000 jobs.
The December cuts were concentrated in heavy construction and building subcontract work, and were partially due to unseasonably cold and wet weather early in the month.
The decline should be reversed early in 2006 because the amount of work under way is increasing. Homebuilders have a record number of new homes under construction, and nonresidential builders have increased project starts 6.5% in the last three months compared to the prior three months, according to Property and Portfolio Research, Boston.
However, construction employment may be revised downward in the spring. Contractor hiring in the last two years, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, has been very large compared to increases in projects under construction. Based on the current job totals, about 150,000 new construction jobs are expected in the next 12 months, down sharply from the 258,000 jobs added in the last 12 months.