"The construction jobs report remains consistent with the notion that the nation’s nonresidential construction industry sector remains mired in its own recession." —ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu
For 2009, the employment situation for the nonresidential building construction sector ended the year on a sour note with the loss of 7,700 jobs in December, according to the January 8 report by the U.S. Labor Department. For all of 2009, nonresidential building construction shed 105,300 jobs, or 13.1 percent, to bring employment to 698,200.
Jobs fell across the board as nonresidential specialty trade contractor employment fell by 8,800 jobs in December. The sector has lost 388,000 jobs, or 15.8 percent, since December 2008. Heavy and civil engineering lost 18,400 jobs in December, and 122,600 jobs, or 13.1 percent, on a year-over-year basis.
Residential building construction lost 3,800 jobs in December and lost 98,000 jobs, or 12.7 percent, since the same time last year. The construction industry as a whole has lost 53,000 jobs for the month and 934,000, or 13.7 percent, for the year. Job losses in the construction industry accounted for more than half of the net job loss in the U.S. in December. Since the beginning of the recession in December 2007, employment in the construction industry has fallen by 1.6 million.
Total employment in all industries shrank by 85,000 jobs in December following a revised gain of 4,000 jobs in November. Over the past twelve months, total employment is down 4,164,000 or 3.1 percent. The nation’s unemployment rate remains at 10 percent for December 2009.
What This Means
“This was not a promising report,” said Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Many economists believed that the U.S. economy would actually add jobs in December. Instead, the labor market was unable to sustain the momentum that had been building for several months, including in November when the nation added jobs for the first time since late 2007.
“The employment report was particularly negative for the nonresidential construction sector,” said Basu. “Some of the job losses were due to unseasonably cold temperatures in certain parts of the nation in December. Of the 53,000 construction jobs lost in December, roughly half could be attributed to weather.
“Nevertheless, the construction jobs report remains consistent with the notion that the nation’s nonresidential construction industry sector remains mired in its own recession,” said Basu.