The construction industry continued to add jobs in July, with employment increasing by 19,000 last month, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry has added 308,000 over the last 12 months.
After a slight increase in unemployment in the construction industry in June, the jobless rate fell to 3.4% last month, from 4.7% in June and from 4.9% a year ago.
[Related: New construction jobs slowed in June]
National unemployment improved slightly, falling 0.1 percentage point to 3.9% in July, following a 0.2-point increase in June. Professional and business services, manufacturing, and health care and social assistance saw the biggest growth in jobs, according to BLS.
“The construction industry has added workers at nearly three times the rate of the economy as a whole, and the job gains are showing up in both residential and non-residential construction,” Ken Simonson, chief economist at the Associated General Contractors of America, said in a statement. “But it is getting ever harder for contractors to find workers despite offering above-average pay and good career advancement opportunities.”
[Related: High school course puts construction industry on students’ radar]
Earnings and hours increased as well. Construction workers earned an average $29.86 per hour last month, BLS found, and worked 39.4 hours per week.
Construction jobs in Colorado increased to 171,200 in June, the most recent data available from BLS. That number is a return to April’s level, after a small drop in May to 170,600, and is up more than 5% over last June.