Overall U.S. job growth continued to be undermined by the severe downturn affecting the construction industry as another 75,000 construction workers lost their jobs in January and the industry's unemployment rate jumped to 24.7%, according to federal employment figures released recently by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and analyzed by the Associated General Contractors of America.
"Unlike the rest of the economy, the construction industry continues to shed jobs at virtually the same rate in January as it has for the past twelve months," says Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "The stimulus appears to be the only bright spot for an industry suffering from depression-era unemployment levels. "
Overall declines in construction activity have cost 926,000 construction workers their jobs since January 2009, a 14.1% drop, Simonson notes. He adds that construction accounted for nearly one-quarter of all job losses in the past 12 months (926,000 out of 4 million, 23%), even though the industry employs only 4.3% of all nonfarm payroll employees (5.6 million out of 129.5 million).
"Any effort by Congress and the Obama Administration to address the nation's unemployment challenges must include significant new investments in infrastructure, " says Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's CEO. "As today's report makes clear, without those investments, a bad jobs picture will only get much worse."