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After heavy hiring in February, industry sees slow job growth in March

Following a February in which unseasonably warm weather likely prompted contractors to step up hiring sooner than usual, the construction industry added only 6,000 jobs in March.

The Associated General Contractors of America reported that employment figure Friday using seasonally adjusted data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. AGC officials warned hiring could remain tepid unless federal and state officials invest more in public-works projects.

“Construction firms continued to add jobs over the past year at a higher rate than the overall economy,” said Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist, in an official statement. “The small job gain in March most likely reflects ‘payback’ for unusually large hiring in February rather than a flattening of demand for projects. However, there has been a slowdown in public investment in highways and other infrastructure that could undermine construction hiring this year.”

The addition of 6,000 jobs in March brought the industry’s total to just over 6.88 million. That increase came after the industry added 59,000 jobs in February, the single largest monthly gain seen in 11 years.

Even though the industry’s total job count was up slightly in March, not all sectors fared equally well. Residential contractors lost 7,600 jobs, whereas non-residential companies added 13,300.

“A number of nonresidential segments performed particularly well from the perspective of job creation,” said Anirban Basu, chief economist for the Associated Builders and Contractors, in an official statement. “These included specialty trade contractors, who remained busy working on commercial construction projects, and heavy and civil engineering, which suggests a pickup in highway and street spending.”


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