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Industry unemployment hits record low in July

National construction employment increased by 303,000 jobs year-over-year in July and the industry’s unemployment rate hit a record low, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.

The trade group reported on Friday that 7.242 million were employed in the industry in July this year. That was not only up 303,000 jobs from July 2017 but also up 19,000 jobs from June 2018. The AGC said contractors would probably have hired even more if they were not still contending with a shortage of qualified labor.

“The construction industry has added workers at nearly three times the rate of the economy as a whole, and the job gains are showing up in both resident and non-residential construction,” said Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist. “But it is getting ever harder for contractors to find workers despite offering above-average pay and good career advancement opportunities.”

Average hourly earnings in the industry increased to $29.86 in July, a figure up 3.2 percent from the same month a year earlier. That meant average hourly earnings in construction were 10.4 percent higher than average pay in all nonfarm private-sector jobs, which was $27.05.

The unemployment rate for job seekers with construction experience was 3.4 percent in July. That was the lowest point that figured has reached since such figures began to be tracked in 2000. Simonson said that’s a sign the industry is essentially operating at full employment.

Employment increased in both the residential and non-residential sides of the industry. Jobs increased by 5.2 percent on the residential side and by 4 percent on the non-residential side.

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