A closer look at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) total nonfarm payroll report for August 2021, with a focus on construction employment and analysis provided by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), reveals that residential construction employment rose by 17,400 in August, while non-residential construction lost -20,300 positions, reflecting declines in builders (-2,800), nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-9,200), and heavy and civil engineering construction (-8,300).
Currently, residential construction employment exceeds its level in February 2020, while only 52% of nonresidential construction jobs lost in March and April have been recovered. Aggregate construction industry (both residential and non-residential) employment totaled 7.4 million in August. Employment in the overall construction sector was little changed (-3,000) in August, following a revised increase of 6,000 jobs in July. Residential construction employment now stands at 3.1 million in August, broken down as 881,000 builders and 2.2 million residential specialty trade contractors.
The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction was 10,550 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers added 153,300 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 1,076,700 positions.
In August, the unemployment rate for construction workers declined by 1.4 percentage points to 5.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate for construction workers has been trending lower, after reaching 14.1% in April 2020, due to the housing demand impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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