WASHINGTON — The United States construction industry added 39,000 jobs in January, including 12,700 net new nonresidential jobs, according to a new preliminary estimate released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). December’s estimate was revised downward from 48,000 to 44,000 net new jobs. With revisions, nonresidential construction expanded by 21,200 jobs in December.

“Construction added more jobs than all but one sector of the economy,” said Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) chief economist, and this report “provides additional evidence that the economic momentum generated during the final nine months of 2014 will persist into 2015.

“While the U.S. dollar — which spiked in response to this jobs report — will slow export growth and federal spending dynamics will remain a brake on momentum, consumer spending will remain a powerful, forward-moving force. Capital spending should accelerate in most economic segments, though the oil sector will be among the noteworthy exceptions. Interest rates remain incredibly low, which serves as another important tailwind for nonresidential construction this year.

“A continuation of strong job creation, significant wage growth, and a post-recession high in labor force growth” all serve to make this jobs report “one that economists didn’t dare to dream about,” said Basu. “Consider that the national economy has added over 200,000 jobs for 11 consecutive months, and job creation over the past calendar year is as fast as it has been since the middle of 1999.”

One of the only sectors that lost jobs in January was oil and gas extraction, which decreased by 1,900 jobs for the month. “The decline in upstream oil and gas employment is attributable to declining oil prices,” said Basu. “Though the data isn’t currently available, it seems likely that many of those displaced workers are in North Dakota and Texas, the two areas with booming energy industries. Given that those states have skilled-labor shortages, those displaced workers should be able to transition to the construction industry.”

For more information, visit www.abc.org.

Publication date: 2/9/2015

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