WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. construction industry showed robust growth at the end of 2015, adding 45,000 net new jobs in December and 128,000 during the fourth quarter according to analysis of today's employment release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The construction industry's nonresidential component added 16,400 net new jobs in December while the residential sector accounted for 23,100 and the heavy and civil engineering sector contributed 4,800.
"Many contractors continue to report strong backlog, indicating that nonresidential construction spending will remain a key economic driver in 2016," said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. "Given the mounting level of concern regarding the U.S. economic outlook in the face of emerging global deflationary forces and unstable geopolitics, today's employment report is a positive sign. Consumer spending will be the primary economic driver in 2016 and the U.S. economy would fail to achieve even 2 percent growth should the labor market begin to sputter."

November's construction employment estimate was upwardly revised from 46,000 net new jobs to 48,000, but the construction unemployment rate rose to 7.5 percent in December from 6.2 percent in both November and October.
"The construction industry's unemployment rate surged 1.3 percentage points in December, an indication that more people are beginning to recognize the opportunities being generated by the industry and want to participate in what is presently one of the economy's more dynamic segments," said Basu. "While rising unemployment is not generally viewed as a good thing, it could signal relief in an industry where contractors have fretted for years about a lack of qualified craftspeople to do the work."

  • Nonresidential building construction employment expanded by 5,100 jobs in December and is up by 9,900 jobs or 1.4 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • Residential building construction employment expanded by 5,000 jobs in December and is up by 32,700 jobs or 4.8 percent on a year-ago basis.
  • Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 11,300 jobs for the month and employment in that category is up by 95,300 jobs or 4.3 percent from the same time one year ago.
  • Residential specialty trade contractors added 18,100 net new jobs in December and have added 104,500 jobs or 6.1 percent since December 2014.
  • The heavy and civil engineering construction segment added 4,800 jobs in December and is up by 20,200 positions or 2.2 percent on a year-over-year basis.