The U.S. construction industry created 21,000 jobs in January, according to a report that was released by the Department of Labor. This increase followed a 31,000 gain in December.
The jobs report indicated that payrolls rose by 243,000 in January, which was the largest increase in nine months. The employment growth was better than the expectations of market experts surveyed by various media outlets. The jobs growth caused the unemployment rate to drop to 8.3 percent, which was its lowest level since February 2009.
"We still have a long way to go before the labor market can be said to be operating normally," Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told the House Budget Committee in Washington on February 2, according to Bloomberg. "Fortunately, over the past few months, indicators of spending, production and job-market activity have shown some signs of improvement."
The figure exceeded the prediction of every participant in a Bloomberg News survey, which estimated that the country added 140,000 positions during the month. The 89 economists who were polled provided estimates of job growth ranging from 95,000 to 225,000.
Construction was one of the best-performing sectors in terms of creating jobs, along with manufacturing, leisure and hospitality and professional and business services. Staffing companies that place construction workers might benefit from this activity in the sector.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis released a statement on February 3, which stated that "our nation's labor market posted strong gains in the month of January. The economy added 257,000 private sector jobs last month," which was better than anticipated. "These numbers show that the labor market continues on a positive trajectory. We've created 3.7 million private sector jobs over the last 23 months, according to revised numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. January's job growth was the strongest in nine months."
She added that "we're also seeing new growth in construction. This sector has added 52,000 jobs over the last two months, the largest increase in construction jobs since 2007.
The Associated General Contactors of America stated that total construction employment totaled 5.6 million at the end of January, which was 0.4 percent higher than December and 21 percent higher than the same time in 2011, according to Washington Business Journal.
Data provided by the organization indicated that employment in residential building rose by 2.1 percent, civil engineering construction increased by 2.6 percent and nonresidential building employment expanded by 2.0 percent during the period, the media outlet reports.
Evidence of the job growth in construction can be observed in Los Angeles, where the approval of a recent legislative proposal called Measure R will create funding that will be used to create hundreds of thousands of construction jobs over the coming years, according to The Huffington Post.
During the week that ended January 28, the Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors approved a Construction Careers Policy, which will involve 17 transportation-related projects responsible for creating more than 23,400 positions during the next five years, the media outlet reports. Over a period of 30 years, the policy could result in $72 billion in projects and create close to 300,000 construction jobs.
The project has served to stimulate job creation by requiring contractors that apply to work on the projects to agree to certain employment terms, according to the media outlet. The strategy has been utilized by various local government entities to award contracts that are within budget, delivered on-time and create good jobs.