Bright spots reveal themselves as the nation pushes past the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, a series of releases from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) paint a picture of a construction industry that is bouncing back.
Earlier this month, AGC announced employment in the construction industry climbed by 60,000 jobs between January and February 2022. At the same time, hourly pay in the industry rose at the steepest pace in nearly 40 years. The analysis is based on data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Job growth was widespread throughout the industry. According to the AGC, employment rose for all types of construction in February. For example, nonresidential construction added 29,400 jobs, while residential construction jobs rose by 31,000.
Salaries went up, too. According to Ken Simonson, AGC's chief economist, average hourly earnings for “hourly craft workers,” or production and nonsupervisory employees, increased 6% over the previous 12 months, representing the steepest 12-month increase since December 1982.
The construction industry is experiencing other positive trends. On Mar. 17, 2022, AGC reported that employment increased in nearly three out of four U.S. metro areas in January 2022, compared to the same month one year before. However, the supply of labor is not keeping up with the jobs. The association noted that job openings in construction totaled 384,000 at the end of January, an increase of 81,000 or nearly 27% from January 2021, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the BLS. That figure exceeded the 259,000 employees that construction firms were able to hire in January, suggesting that firms would have added many more workers if they had been able to fill all openings.
Lastly, spending in the industry is on the rise. AGC noted that construction spending increased in January compared to the previous month and January 2021. Construction spending in January totaled $1.68 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. That is 1.3% above the upwardly revised December rate, and 8.2% higher than in January 2021.