What you need to know about the new construction jobs report
NEW YORK (AP) New construction companies that employ workers at home, on the job and at the office are making record profits, as the unemployment rate drops to its lowest level in nearly three decades and the nation’s economy grows.
Employers in construction are benefiting from an infusion of billions of dollars in federal stimulus money and the new federal construction tax credit, the largest in history, the Department of Labor reported Wednesday.
The jobs report was released in the midst of a new round of political battles over raising the federal minimum wage.
But even as the economy continues to expand, some construction firms are hiring fewer workers and saying they need to cut costs, a trend that will push up the cost of their products and could further crimp their profit margins.
Federal officials have been trying to curb job growth at construction firms, which employ roughly one-fifth of the workforce.
Construction jobs have declined about 4.5% since April of last year, according to a recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Last year, there were more than 1.3 million construction jobs in the United States, but that figure fell to about 1.1 million in January.
In recent months, construction companies have said they are facing a severe shortage of skilled workers in the wake of the recession, a problem that will worsen as the country’s job market shrinks further and more companies cut workers’ hours.
A growing number of construction workers are taking a pay cut to make ends meet, leaving fewer jobs for workers to fill.
“The construction industry is a critical industry in the economy, but it’s not getting the jobs,” said Brian J. Smith, senior economist at the Center.
“There are so many other industries that are growing and making money and have a lot more job openings.”
The job growth figures, while modest, reflect a broader trend, according the Labor Department: There is a lot of demand for construction workers, which has led to higher demand for other types of workers, including those in other industries.
Despite the overall job losses, construction has made more money than the economy has in nearly a year.
Manufacturing firms have made record profits this year, and many economists expect the industry to continue to expand at a healthy pace.
On Wednesday, the construction industry added 1.7 million jobs, according a survey by construction-data firm IHS Markit, the most since October.
Construction-related job losses also outpaced a similar period in 2016, with the construction sector accounting for almost half of all jobs lost in that year.
The construction sector grew 2.9% in January, the slowest pace since April, according, and the industry has added more than 3.3m jobs in January since the start of the year.
Construction jobs are still growing, but in large part because of the surge in construction.
With fewer workers to support them, some companies are cutting costs.
Companies like aldrich, which makes steel pipes, have begun cutting production.
And many construction companies are adding more staff, with new hires increasing from about 1 million in May to more than 2.4 million by last month.
Even with those job gains, there are signs that construction workers will be on the picket line in 2017.
The federal minimum wages were recently increased by a quarter to $9.35 an hour, from $7.25 an hour.
The labor market is still fragile.
Congress will have to decide how to rein in the growth in construction, but officials have said that they are unlikely to raise the minimum wage, which is set to rise to $10 an hour in January 2019.