After adding more than 23,000 jobs in August, employment in the construction industry reached over 7.25 million jobs, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is up from a 19,000 increase in July.
The August increase brings the total increase in construction jobs for the year to 297,000.
[Related: Construction jobless rate improves in July]
Unemployment in construction was unchanged at 3.4% in August. Overall, unemployment remained at 3.9% in August. Professional and business services added the most jobs, followed by health care, adding 53,000 and 33,000 jobs respectively.
Average earnings continued to improve. BLS estimated average hourly earnings in August were $29.95, up from $29.89 in July. Average hours worked per week slipped to the June level of 39.3 hours.
Associated General Contractors of America noted that construction employment is at the highest level since May 2008.
“The construction industry continues to add workers and increase pay at greater rates than the economy as a whole, with job gains spread across both residential and non-residential construction,” Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC, said in a statement. “But contractors report widespread difficulty in finding qualified workers for both salaried and hourly craft positions.”
Residential building employment increased by 12,900 jobs, primarily among specialty trade contractors, which added 8,700 jobs.
However, an AGC survey found 80% of construction firms are having a hard time finding qualified trades workers, and nearly half think it’s going to get even harder over the next 12 months. In Colorado, electricians and carpenters were the hardest positions to fill, with three-quarters of firms that were looking for those trades saying it’s gotten harder to fill these positions in the last year.
[Related: Consumers turn to new home construction]