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Construction employment totaled 6.6 million in June, unchanged from May’s level, according to the trade group Associated General Contractors of America, which blamed the stagnation on a lack of available qualified workers.
Residential construction added 2,300 jobs in June and 134,000, or 5.5 percent, compared to a year ago, but non-residential construction lost 1,500 jobs for the month yet gained 83,000 employees compared to June 2015, a 2.1 percent increase. Average hourly earnings, a measure of wages and salaries for all workers, increased 2.8 percent in construction over the past year to $28.13 in June.
“Construction employment stalled in June after declining in April and May, but unemployment among construction workers is at a 16-year low, while average hourly earnings have accelerated for the past three months and average weekly hours are very high,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “These indicators, along with reports from contractors, suggest there is a dearth of qualified workers to hire, not a deliberate pullback in hiring. Indeed, construction activity and employment should continue to outpace the overall economy in the remainder of 2016.”
The association also called for Congress to pass the proposed Carl D. Perkins Act, which is designed to fund career and technical education programs for future construction workers.