Nonresidential construction added 5,000 jobs in March as the U.S. construction industry lost 1,000 jobs, according to The February estimate for the U.S. construction industry remained at 29,000 new jobs.

"Today's jobs report was a stunner, and construction was not spared as the sector lost jobs for the first time in 15 months," says Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. "Coming into the week, the consensus estimate for March's net new job creation was in the range of 250,000. An ADP report released earlier in the week indicated that the U.S. private sector only added 189,000 jobs, which brought the consensus estimate closer to 200,000; however, the initial Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate for March fell well short of even that diminished expectation."

Basu says weather played a role but was not the sole cause.

"The knee-jerk reaction is to blame the weather," Basu says. "While that seems natural, the fact of the matter is that the latest employment release comes on top of a sea of other data indicating that the U.S. economy has been losing momentum since the third quarter of last year, and retail sales and manufacturing-related data have been among the sources of disappointment.

"Weather serves as a potential partial explanation, but another possibility is that some of the slowdown in job growth is attributable to reduced activity in the nation's energy sector," he continues. "While lower fuel prices are helping to support various forms of activity, the impact on oil producers has been jarring. Those operating in the oil exploration and production segments of the economy have come to dominate layoff announcements recently. It may be that the negative impacts of lower energy prices are felt more intensely in the short-term but the positive effects will become obvious later this year."

The national construction unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in March.

Following is the breakdown of construction employment for March and the past year:

  • The nonresidential building construction sector rose by 600 jobs for the month and has added 31,900 jobs since March 2014.
  • The residential building construction sector rose by 3,700 jobs in March and added 46,700 jobs since March 2014.
  • Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 4,400 jobs in March and 83,700 jobs since March 2014.
  • Residential specialty trade contractors lost 6,500 jobs in March and added 89,600 jobs since March 2014.
  • The heavy and civil engineering construction sector lost 3,900 jobs in March and added 29,400 jobs since March 2014.

via NRCA

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