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Nov-05-2010 09:52printcomments

Construction Unemployment Soars to 17.3 %

As the industry adds 5,000 over 2 last months.

Construction unemployment
Construction unemployment in Oregon is now over 17%.

(SALEM, Ore.) - Even as the number of people working in construction increased by 5,000 between September and October 2010, the industry’s unemployment rate rose to 17.3 percent, according to an analysis of federal employment figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Temporary government investments boosted commercial construction employment, offsetting further job losses in residential construction, association officials noted.

“Despite significant help from programs like the BRAC and the stimulus, construction employment continues to lag behind much of the private sector,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “It is yet another indicator that the economy has a long way to grow before demand for new office buildings, retail centers and manufacturing facilities returns.”

Association officials noted that construction employment lagged behind other sectors of the economy. For example, while total private employment rose by 1.1 million during the past 12 months, the construction industry lost 122,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the industry’s unemployment rate is nearly double the unadjusted national rate of 9.5 percent.

Nonresidential construction fared relatively well in October compared to residential construction, association officials said. Nonresidential construction employment added 10,300 jobs since September, while residential construction lost 5,800 jobs. Nonresidential specialty construction added 7,300 jobs and heavy & civil engineering added 4,800 jobs. However, nonresidential building construction employment declined by 1,800 jobs between September and October.

The employment data is consistent with construction spending figures released earlier this week that showed increases in public construction spending offsetting continued declines in private-sector construction. Temporary federal programs like the stimulus and base realignment efforts were driving demand for construction workers from the specialty trades and heavy & civil engineering construction sectors. Meanwhile decreased private-sector activity contributed to the nonresidential building job losses.

While the stimulus has helped protect the construction industry from more severe job losses, construction firms were unlikely to significantly expand payrolls until the long-term market outlook improves, association officials said. They urged Washington officials to act on long-delayed water and transportation infrastructure programs and to provide the tax and regulatory relief needed to boost private sector economic activity.

“These modest job gains are likely to be as temporary as the programs that are driving them,” said Sandherr. “What this industry needs now is the certainty that comes with consistent tax, regulatory and federal infrastructure policies and the opportunity that comes from sustained and robust private sector economic growth.”

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Douglas Benson November 6, 2010 9:24 am (Pacific time)

I doubt that Jay .That number is wrong ,its more like 60-70% in Oregon . Every company I know of has cut the number of guys on the job by more than half . The illegals dont even show on the stats . It should be a felony crime to hire someone without E-verify the carpenters union has finally forced the employers to do so and the illegals are gone from the union . Its harder to get the small contractors who do a lot of hiring off the books to avoid workmans comp un-employment etc. but if they took a good look at what these guys say was self-preformed work it would be evident they couldnt have done so . The wage and hour dept. should be looking at and investigating all construction comp. instead of responding to complaints .Which by the way takes at least three complaints before they do so . Peace

Jay November 5, 2010 2:36 pm (Pacific time)

This rate could be quickly reduced by advocating and enforcing social security number employment verification, or any other documents that provides for one to be employed in the states. Fines and jail for repeated "employer" violations would make this have a quick impact on lowering all unemployment. Our citizens come first.

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