By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
Construction firms across the country added a total of 25,000 employees in January and increased pay levels for hourly workers more than other sectors did last month, according to an analysis of government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Association officials reported that the industry has been benefitting from relatively strong demand for construction projects as firms struggle to fill available positions.
“Construction employment totaled a record 7.88 million people (seasonally adjusted) in January 2023, which equates to an increase of 294,000 employees or 3.9 percent from a year earlier,” said Ken Simonson, AGC of America chief economist. “In fact, most contractors would like to hire even more workers and are raising pay in an effort to attract them.”
Nonresidential firms – including commercial, industrial and heavy highway contractors, specialty contractors and heavy and civil engineering companies – added 19,300 workers in January and 179,200 employees or 4 percent over the past 12 months. Residential building and specialty trade contractors together added 5,500 employees last month and 114,600 employees or 3.6 percent over the year.
Pay levels in the U.S. construction industry continue to increase. In January, they rose at a faster pace than in the overall private sector. Average hourly earnings for production-specific nonsupervisory construction workers, mostly hourly craft workers, climbed by 6.2 percent – from $31.44 per hour in January 2022 to $33.38 hourly in January 2023. That year-over-year increase exceeded the 5.1 percent increase in average pay for all private sector production workers. Construction workers now earn an average of 18.1 percent more per hour than in the private sector as a whole.
“Construction firms are doing everything in their power to recruit even more people into the industry,” said Stephen Sandherr, the AGC of America’s chief executive officer. “Closing a federal funding gap that puts five dollars into college-track programs for every dollar spent on career and technical education will help expose many more workers to high-paying career opportunities in fields like construction.”