With 58,000 new jobs added, February marked the best month the construction industry has had for employment increases in nearly a decade, the Associated Builders and Contractors reported. Now standing at 8.8 percent, the unemployment rate fell 0.6 points.
According to the ABC analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, almost two-thirds (38,5000) of the jobs created last month were in nonresidential construction. This growth was fueled by specialty trade contractors (21,5000) and heavy and civil engineering, which had an employment increase of 1.6 percent and added 15,1000 jobs. Nonresidential building increased by 1,900 positions.
It was also a strong month for residential construction. Though there was a mild uptick in residential building (4,000), residential specialty trade contractors grew by 14,900.
Builder Online reported that, over the past six months, 177,000 jobs have been added to to the construction industry.
"Industry surveys indicate that the typical construction firm expects to be busier in 2017 than they were last year, and government data continues to support that optimism," ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu stated. "Over the first two months of 2017, construction has added 98,000 net new jobs, as many as were created over the first nine months of 2016."
The employment gains can be attributed, in part, to the unseasonably mild winter this year, which typically interrupts employment for over 300,000 construction workers during the winter. However, Basu noted that the gains can also be explained by an increase in job seekers.