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Industry adds 58K jobs in February

A day after state officials announced that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate for January was the lowest seen since 2001, industry organizations were reporting a surge in construction employment.

Using seasonally adjusted federal data, the Associated General Contractors of America reported Friday that the industry added 58,000 jobs in February, bringing the total throughout the U.S. to about 6.88 million. That number was up by 219,000 – 3.3 percent – from the same month a year ago.

Average earnings in the industry came to $28.48 an hour, which was 9.2 percent more than the average for private industries in general.

Employment gains were seen in both residential and non-residential construction. The residential sector added 136,200 jobs, showing an increase of 5.3 percent, between February 2016 and February 2017. The non-residential sector added 82,600 jobs, an increase of 2 percent, over the same 12-month period.

An economist for a separate group – the Associated Builders and Contractors – said this year’s unusually warm winter no doubt led to fewer seasonal layoffs than are typical. Also, the early onset of spring might have caused workers to be hired back earlier in the year than is normal.

“Still, there is reason to believe that construction job gains generated over the past two months are explained by more than unusually warm weather,” said Anirban Basu, ABC chief economist. “Data suggest there are now more jobseekers looking to participate in the construction sector’s ongoing recovery. That has likely helped some construction firms fill jobs openings more quickly over the last two months.”

The construction industry’s unemployment rate stood at 8.8 percent. The rate for all industries for the same month was 4.7 percent.

On Thursday, state officials had reported that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate stood at 3.9 percent in January. That was the lowest rate recorded since January 2001.

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