Seasonally adjusted construction employment fell by 8,000 in August and 437,000, a 5.7% decrease, over the past 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment at residential builders and specialty trade contractors dropped by a combined 19,000 for the month and 352,000, or 10.9%, over 12 months. Employment at non-residential builders, specialty trade contractors, and heavy and civil engineering contractors rose 10,000 in August and fell 85,000, a 1.9% decrease, over 12 months.
However, Census Bureau data and reports from contractors suggest BLS has under-reported residential job losses, and that non-residential employment has risen, not fallen. Drops in residential starts and building permits make it seem likely that residential contractors reduced employment by at least 27.7%, or roughly 520,000 employees. Workers at firms that originally identified themselves as "residential" specialty trade contractors but are now performing non-residential work could explain the difference. If those workers are taken into account, non-residential employment would have risen 435,000, a 10% increase, over the past year.