The bad news about this winter in the eastern part of the country? It made many people wish that they didn't have to go into work. The good news about this winter is that many people did have to go into work, including those in the construction industry. Construction workers have been quite busy this winter, with firms adding 29,000 new jobs in February alone. This reflects an overall great year of job growth within the construction industry. A total of 321,000 new jobs were added to firm payrolls from February 2014-February 2015. This is the most employment growth the industry has seen since 2009.
And the industry is not just acquiring more employees, these employees are working more hours as well. Statistical data reported that the average worker was logging almost forty hours a week across the industry. Those working directly in construction were earning a little over $4,000 per month, nearly a quarter more than the average monthly salary of private industry workers.
However, all of this new wealth and hours did not apply equally to all sectors of the construction industry. Firms specializing in infrastructure construction could actually be looking at loss of funding (leading to cutbacks in workers) this year. Many such firms rely on federal money to finance road, bridge, and transit projects, funds that have been noticeably declining in recent years. As a result, many states and municipalities are picking up the slack, meaning some areas (Mid-Atlantic) will fare better than others (New England) when it comes to this type of work.
And while large scale commercial projects are on a decline, many smaller private ones are underway. The market for residences is doing quite well, with plenty of hotels and apartments going up or in the planning stage, in addition to lots of private homes being constructed. As a result of all this residential building, the sector showed the largest growth of any within the industry, adding 167,000 new jobs within the last year.
The number of unemployed construction workers in February 2015 fell off by almost 200,000 individuals compared to a year earlier, especially impressive considering that February is traditionally a slow month for the industry. These numbers reflect an unemployment nine year low.
Analysts say that while the financial fortunes of infrastructure construction workers remain uncertain, for building contractors, there should be a lot of work ahead, good news for employees looking for bigger paychecks and opportunities.