Nonresidential construction job growth offsets housing slump, AGC says

November 07, 2007 |


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  AGC members are "Building Your Quality of Life."


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