US construction employment gained +27,000 jobs in November to a total of 7.4 million, but employment is -279,000 below its February level, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Residential construction employment, specifically, rose by +15,400 in November to 2.9 million. In November, employment rose in residential specialty trade contractors by +14,100.
In the past seven months, +438,100 residential construction jobs were created, offsetting about 96% of the -456,800 residential construction jobs lost in March and April due to the pandemic. In February national not-seasonally-adjusted (NSA) construction employment was +214,000 higher than in February 2019 — signifying a robust job market.
“The only major sector to display immunity to the economic impacts of the coronavirus is the housing market, which has experienced a strong V-shaped recovery. Residential building jobs initially rebounded strongly from April’s low point and are continuing the slow increase to pre-pandemic levels. In the most recent report, jobs in residential building increased by nearly +0.2% compared with one month ago, and hovers just -0.7% below its high level in February. Since more hammers leads to more homes, the continued rise in residential construction employment was welcome news for a housing market in desperate need of more supply.”
Odeta Kushi, First American deputy chief economist.
Construction unemployment, meanwhile, was down by -179,000, or -2.4%, from the November 2019 total. Construction’s November jobless rate climbed to 7.3% from October’s 6.8% and also marked an increase from the year-earlier level of 4.4%.
In November, the unemployment rate for construction workers dropped to 8% on a seasonally adjusted basis, from 8.2% in October. After hitting 16% in April due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate for construction workers has been trending downward for the past seven months.
From February to September 2020, the national NSA construction unemployment rate went from 5.5% in February, to a peak of 16.6% in April, then to 7% in September, its lowest post-February rate, according to BLS numbers.
Residential construction employment now stands at 2.9 million in November, broken down as: 835,000 builders and 2.1 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction was +35,133 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodellers added +26,000 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained +964,900 positions.
2020 Decline in Construction Employment, Compared to 2019
According to the Association of General Contractors, the pandemic initially triggered widespread project cancellations and interruptions that resulted in the loss of -1.1 million construction jobs in March and April.