After trending up recently, construction jobs slipped in February with a loss of more than 31,000 jobs, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The largest decline was among specialty trade contractors, particularly residential trades. BLS data show a drop of 9,300 jobs among residential trade contractors, compared with 4,200 lost jobs among nonresidential trades.
Nonresidential building reported a loss of 3,000 jobs, while residential building lost 1,600.
Heavy and civil engineering jobs dropped by 13,200 jobs.
After a big gain in January, total employment held steady last month. Overall unemployment slipped 0.2 points to 3.8% in February.
Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, said in a tweet that the February decline is due to weakened construction activity at the end of last year.
Residential construction employment suffered due to weak construction activity near the end of 2018. Feb showed a 10,900 loss for res construction employment. Total construction employment down 31,000 on a weak 20,000 gain for the US. Fed pause confirmed.
— Robert Dietz (@dietz_econ) March 8, 2019
Revised data from BLS show a decline in residential construction employment in December 2018 of 900 jobs, after initially reporting an increase of 1,700.
Average weekly hours for construction workers fell slightly in February from 39.9 to 38.9, BLS data show. Average weekly earnings fell almost 2% to $1,184.51, despite an increase in average hourly earnings.