Residential Construction Sees Largest Gain in 12 Months

February 11, 2020
Construction labor
By Tomasz Zajda

The labor market started the year off strong. Overall, the total payroll employment increased by 225,000 across the board. Residential construction alone jumped by 20,200 in January, the largest gain in 12 months, and specialty trade contractors saw the biggest increase in the residential sector. Although the unemployment rate rose 0.1 percent, it still remains close to a 50-year low, and the boost in construction jobs comes at a great time for the industry as it prepares to ramp up construction and tackle the inventory shortage. 

The labor market started the new year with a solid gain. Total payroll employment increased by 225,000 and the unemployment rate was 3.6% in January. Residential construction employment increased by 20,200 in January, the largest gain in the past twelve months. Total construction industry (both residential and nonresidential) employment totaled about 7.6 million in January.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Employment Situation Summary for January. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 225,000 in January, following a revised increase of 147,000 jobs in December. Over the past twelve months, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2.1 million.

BLS revised seasonally adjusted data from January 2015 forward. Monthly growth in total nonfarm payroll employment for 2019 was revised downward from 2,108,000 to 2,096,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate inched up to 3.6% in January from 3.5% in December, but still near a 50-year low. Over the month, the number of employed persons was little changed (-89,000), while the number of unemployed persons increased by 139,000. The labor force participation rate, the proportion of the population either looking for a job or already with a job, ticked up by 0.2 percentage points to 63.4% in January.

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