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Hours worked at record high in March, industry unemployment record low

Hours worked in construction hit a record high and industry unemployment a record low in March as contractors added 16,000 jobs.

Using seasonally adjusted federal data, the Associated General Contractors of America reported Friday that industry employment rose to 7.447 million in March. That total came out not only to 16,000 more jobs than contractors had in February but also 246,000 more than in March 2018.

The increase came after a slight employment slump in February. AGC officials said that decline was most likely the result of bad weather rather than any farther-reaching economic development.

“In fact, the construction industry has added jobs at twice the rate of the overall economy in the past year,” said Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist.

Construction employees worked 39.9 hours a week on average this March, the most seen in any March since the AGC started tracking such figures 14 years ago. Meanwhile, the 490,000 people who were looking for a job and had last worked in construction gave the industry an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent. That was the lowest such figure seen for March since the AGC began tracking industry unemployment in 2000.

As the labor market has tightened, wages have been on the rise. Average hourly construction earnings came to $30.45, which was up by 3.3 percent from March 2018 and was nearly 10 percent higher than the average private-sector wage of $27.70 an hour.

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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