Nonresidential building contractors hired 15,000 people late last year but have added just 3,800 more so far this year and have laid off 2,500 workers since February. This is consistent with the small winter decline in nonresidential construction spending.
Both residential and heavy construction expanded during the winter quarter. Contractors working in those markets added nearly 40,000 people since December, and their subcontractors hired the balance of the 153,000 new construction jobs in the first five months of 2005. Approximately 48,000 construction workers were hired in April and 20,000 more in May.
Single-family builders laid off 1,100 workers in May—the first monthly job cuts in that market in almost two and a half years—while multifamily and remodeling contractors continued to hire. Net hiring will be much lower later this year.
The hiring pace in the nonresidential and heavy construction industries is expected to quicken next year as those markets expand.