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Construction industry still shedding jobs

The nation’s nonresidential building construction sector lost 9,600 jobs in February, according to the March 5 employment report by the U.S. Labor Department. Since Feb. 2009, the sector has shed 101,700 jobs, or 13.3 percent.

Employment in nonresidential construction now stands at 661,600.

Hit the hardest was the nonresidential specialty trade sector, which lost 34,900 jobs last month, bringing its two-month job loss to 83,800. From Feb. 2009 to Feb. 2010, the nonresidential specialty trade sector lost 383,200 jobs, or 16.3 percent. Heavy and civil engineering construction lost 9,000 jobs in February, following a 1,100 job loss in January. The sector has lost 113,000 jobs, or 12.5 percent, from one year ago.

The residential building construction sector lost 5,300 jobs for the month and 107,500, or 15.5 percent, since Feb. 2009. The construction industry as a whole lost 64,000 jobs last month and 880,000, or 13.7 percent, on a year-over-year basis as the unemployment rate hit 27.1 percent.

Overall, the nation’s employment rate was down 36,000 jobs in the month of February, and down 3.297 million on a year-over-year basis. So far, 8.425 million jobs have been lost since the recession began in Dec. 2007. The nation’s unemployment rate in February remained at 9.7 percent.

“No one expected good news from the government’s February employment report,” said Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) chief economist Anirban Basu. “It was expected that the numbers would be influenced by the snowstorms that significantly impacted more than a dozen states.

“Construction employment stood to be particularly hard hit given the nature of industry activity. Based on that, the fact that the nation lost an estimated 36,000 jobs, and that the nonresidential construction industry lost another 9,600 jobs, cannot be taken too seriously.

“In any case, the outlook for construction employment remains bleak and ABC members should note that construction job losses were apparent in areas of the country where weather was not a factor. The implication is that job growth is likely to continue to elude most construction segments in the months ahead, with the possible exception of those directly impacted by the ongoing stimulus spending.”


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