Unemployment rate hits 8.6 percent

Posted on: 3:27 pm, December 7, 2013, by

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Construction employers added 17,000 jobs in November as the sector’s employment hit the highest level since August 2009, and the industry unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials noted that the new employment figures come as construction spending levels hit a four-year high in October.

“While these new employment figures are very encouraging, growth remains uneven by segment, region and time period,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “There are likely to be continuing variations in growth between homebuilding, private nonresidential and public sector.”

Construction employment totaled 5,851,000 in November, an increase of 178,000 from a year earlier, Simonson noted.

But while employment grew by 3.1 percent during the past year, construction employment remains nearly 1.9 million below the sector’s April 2006 peak. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for workers actively looking for jobs and last employed in construction declined from 12.2 percent in November 2012 to 8.6 percent last month.

Many contractors are wondering if the sector will continue to expand and, if it does, how they are going to find enough qualified workers,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Investing in infrastructure projects will help the industry continue to grow while encouraging more secondary students to pursue career and technical training will help make sure those new jobs get filled.”