The job numbers from May showed that employment in the construction sector rose to its highest level in almost four years, according to a release from the Associated General Contractors.
These statistics showed that the 189,000 construction jobs that were added in May increased total employment to 5.8 million, marking a 3.4 percent increase over the same period last year. Builders contributed to much of the hiring, adding 7,000 new positions in May. This level of construction employment pushed the total to its highest since August 2009.
Transport Topics News reports that the current unemployment rate among people who formerly worked in the construction sector fell to 10.8 percent in May, compared with 14.2 percent that was reported in the same period last year. In this time, the number of unemployed construction workers fell to 891,000, from 259,000, marking the lowest number of unemployed industry workers in five years.
"Both residential and nonresidential construction have been adding workers at roughly double the rate of the overall economy in the past year," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist.
Breaking down the data
The media outlet stated that the report showed residential building and specialty trade contractors made up the bulk of the hiring, adding 94,400 new workers in the past year. In May alone, this segment added 5,500 workers. Official data showed that nonresidential building, specialty trade and heavy and civil engineering companies saw their employment rise by 95,500 positions compared to the same period last year.
However, experts say that the rapid hiring could make it harder for some companies to find the best construction, engineering and architectural candidates in the near future.
"Formerly unemployed construction workers are finding jobs in other sectors, retiring or going back to school," Simonson added. "These conditions may lead abruptly to worker shortages in parts of the industry, such as welders and pipefitters."
According to Arizona Commercial Real Estate magazine, there are still several ways for companies to fend off a worker shortage that could come if the sector's robust hiring keeps up. More vocational and training programs would be one way to grow the pool of qualified candidates, these officials said.
"Just as contractors found ways to cope with the downturn, we need to make sure we are able to address the challenges that will come with the sector's eventual recovery," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "One of the biggest challenges this industry faces is limited supply of skilled construction workers available to meet the kind of demand we all hope the industry will soon experience."