"For ABC members, today’s employment figures further cements the notion that commercial construction activity will continue to weaken for the foreseeable future." —ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu
Jobs in the nation’s nonresidential construction industry fell by 16,800 in February, according to the March 6 report by the U.S. Labor Department. This comes one month after the industry suffered its deepest drop in employment in more than 20 years. Employment in this sector now stands at 764,400. Since February 2008, the nonresidential building construction industry has lost 78,300 jobs or 9.3 percent of its workforce (see graph below). (See what this means below)
The residential building construction industry lost 15,600 jobs since January and 135,500 from February 2008. Total private construction employment, which includes specialty trade contractors, fell by 104,000 jobs for the month and 826,000 from a year ago.
Overall, national employment dropped by 651,000 in this short month, 1,987,000 in the past three months, and 4,168,000 on a year-over-year basis. The unemployment rate is now 8.1 percent – the highest since December 1983.
What This Means
“Incredibly, the employment report could have been worse had February had more days,” said Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Last month had roughly 10 percent fewer days than January.
“On that basis alone, monthly job numbers can be expected to deteriorate in the months ahead,” added Basu. “Meanwhile, over the course of February, the credit crunch actually seemed to worsen and additional wealth was lost in the financial and real estate markets.
"For ABC members, today’s employment figures further cements the notion that commercial construction activity will continue to weaken for the foreseeable future. Among other things, job loss diminishes demand for office, retail and other forms of space,” stated Basu. “In addition, today’s announcement, which includes sharp downward revisions in the employment situation for both December and January, makes timely and effective implementation of the stimulus package all the more important.”