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Industry employment hits highest figure for January in 11 years

U.S. construction employment last month climbed to the highest level for January seen in 11 years, according to a national trades group.

Drawing on federal data, the Associated General Contractors of America reported on Friday that contractors had added 338,000 jobs between January 2018 and January 2019. That brought total industry employment, at 7.464 million, to the highest level seen for the month since January 2008.

And that wasn’t the only record that was set. The AGC also reported that the average number of hours worked a week in construction increased to 39.9 in January. That was the highest figure seen since that statistic began to be tracked in 2006.

Moreover, the unemployment rate among jobseekers with construction experience declined to 6.4 percent in January, down from 7.3 percent in the same month the year before. The number of workers falling into that category went from 707,000 to 638,000 between the two months. Those were the lowest such figures seen for January since those sorts of statistics began to be tracked in 2000.

Despite setting records, the numbers would most likely have been better were it not for the industry’s persistent labor shortage, AGC officials said.

“”The pool of unemployed workers with construction experience has virtually evaporated, and everyone in the industry is working longer hours than ever,” said Stephen Sandherr, AGC chief executive officer. “The only way to satisfy the demand is to provide more people with the skills needed to work in construction and to expand the nation’s labor force with qualified workers from outside our borders.”

About Dan Shaw, dan.shaw@dailyreporter.com

Dan Shaw is the associate editor at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at dan.shaw@dailyreporter.com or at 414-225-1807.

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