A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

AGC's Data DIGest: April 1-5, 2024

Construction adds 39,000 jobs in March; job openings set February record; execs’ 2023 pay rose 5.6%

Construction employment, seasonally adjusted, totaled 8,211,000 in March, a gain of 39,000 from February and 270,000 (3.4%) year-over-year (y/y), according to AGC’s analysis of data the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) posted today. The y/y growth rate outpaced the 1.9% increase in total nonfarm payroll employment. Residential construction employment (at residential building and specialty contractors) rose by 14,400 in March and 78,800 (2.4%) y/y. Nonresidential construction employment (at building, specialty trade, and heavy and civil engineering construction firms) increased by 24,600 for the month and 191,700 (4.1%) y/y. Seasonally adjusted average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees in construction (i.e., most craft and office workers) rose 4.9% y/y to $35.42 per hour. The “premium” for nonsupervisory construction workers was 18.9% over the private sector average of $29.79 but remains considerably below the average premium in 2000-2019 of 21.5%. The number of unemployed jobseekers with construction experience totaled 570,000, not seasonally adjusted, a decline of 28,000 (-4.7%) from March 2023.

There were 414,000 job openings in construction, not seasonally adjusted, at the end of February, the largest February total in the 25-year history of the series and a jump of 37,000 (9.8%) y/y, BLS reported on Tuesday. Hires for the full month totaled 347,000, up 11% y/y.

Construction executive pay increased by an average 5.6% in 2023, consultancy PAS reported on March 29. “Contractors are projecting a 2024 executive increase of 4.7%. Historically, predictions are about .3% to .5% low, so we expect the 2024…actual increase to grow by year-end. The actual 2023 increase compared to the 2023 projected increase was .9% higher, so it is possible we will see this same trend in 2024 (or not…). The 2024 Construction/- Construction Management Staff Salary Survey was recently completed with results indicating a 2023 actual pay increase of 5.0%. Most regions hovered around the 5% mark with the low of 4.7% reported in the Mid-Atlantic states and the high of 5.3% in the Southeastern states. The overall projected 2024 increase came in at 4.38% for middle managers and professionals. As with the executive increase numbers, we expect these…numbers to grow as the year progresses.”

Construction employment, not seasonally adjusted, rose y/y from February 2023 to February 2024 in 227 (62%) of the 358 metro areas (including divisions of larger metros) for which BLS posts construction employment data, fell in 80 (22%), and was unchanged in 51, according to an analysis AGC released on Wednesday. (AGC treats as construction only the totals for metros in which BLS reports only combined totals for mining, logging, and construction.) The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area again added the most jobs (7,300 construction jobs, 8%), followed by Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (6,300 combined jobs, 8%). The steepest percentage gain occurred in Fairbanks, Alaska (23%, 500 construction jobs), followed by 20% gains in Danville, Ill. (100 combined jobs); Lawton, Okla. (300 combined jobs); and Saginaw, Mich. (600 combined jobs). The largest numerical losses again occurred in New York City (-9,800 combined jobs, -7%) and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis. (-7,000 combined jobs, -9%). The steepest percentage losses again were in Decatur, Ill. (-24%, -900 combined jobs) and Augusta-Richmond County, Ga.-S.C. (-16%, -2,700 combined jobs).

Construction spending (not adjusted for inflation) totaled $2.09 trillion in February at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, down 0.3% from January but up 11% y/y, the Census Bureau reported on Monday. However, without a deflator it is impossible to say how much of the gain is in units vs. price. Private residential construction rose 0.7% for the month and 6.3% y/y. Single-family homebuilding rose 1.4% (the 10th monthly gain in a row); multifamily construction spending declined 0.2%; and owner-occupied improvements edged up 0.2%. Of the 16 nonresidential segments in the Census release, all but one (transportation) declined for the month—possibly dragged down by severe weather—but all 16 rose y/y. Private nonresidential construction spending slid 0.7% for the month but climbed 13% y/y. The largest private nonresidential segment—manufacturing construction—fell 0.6% for the month (including computer/electronic/electrical, up 0.5%, and chemical and pharmaceutical, down 3.0%). Commercial construction skidded 1.7% (comprising warehouse, down 2.2%; retail, down 1.4%; and farm, down 0.1%). Power and energy construction fell 0.5%. Private office and data center construction dipped 0.1%. Public construction spending declined 1.2% for the month but rose 17% y/y. The largest public segment, highway and street construction, slumped 1.6% for the month; education spending decreased 1.8%. 

Download the Data Digest click here