Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 216,000 jobs were added to U.S. payrolls. This figure exceeded expectation and was well above the 173,000 jobs added in November. The surprise lies in that the increases in the Fed rate were intended to mute the hot job market. Job creation in the construction industry was particularly robust with the industry adding 17,000 jobs in December. While 17,000 positions was more than expected, it is in line with the average of 16,400 positions added per month in 2023 (in spite of a net loss of 9,000 jobs in March). An average of 22,000 per month construction jobs were added in 2022 (despite 4,000 construction jobs removed from the U.S. economy in January 2022).
Most construction industry practitioners have been struggling to find employees for years and acutely since the market rocketed up from the COVID implosion. And the two years of gains have helped, yet we can anticipate the need for greater numbers entering the construction workforce. Total construction employment increased 2.2% in 2023, while total U.S. construction spending increased 11.4%.
As long as construction spending continues at its current rate, which with government investments in infrastructure should be expected, we will continue to need even more people to enter the construction industry.