The construction unemployment rate jumped to 27.1% and construction employment dropped to a 14-year low as another 64,000 construction workers lost jobs in February, according to federal employment figures released recently.

The industry's job losses in February were consistent with the prior six months and not mainly attributable to exceptionally bad weather, according to Ken Simonson, chief economist for The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Arlington, Va. Simonson added that construction unemployment is at the highest level recorded since the federal government began making the data available in 1976. And he noted that non-residential construction experienced significantly more job losses than the residential sector in February: 53,500 jobs lost versus 10,600.

Simonson also noted that job losses appeared widespread across construction sectors, with non-residential specialty trade contractors experiencing the largest monthly decline of 1.7%.