Residential Construction Slows, but Employment Still Ticks Up

April 5th, 2019 by Nick St. Denis

Residential construction was down in February, but this had no negative impact on industry employment, according to the most recent federal government data.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports total construction increased 1 percent from January to February and 1.1 percent from February 2018 to February 2019 on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate.

The lukewarm total construction spending numbers can be attributed mainly to a 3.6-percent decline in residential construction from February 2018 to February 2019, even if residential building did edge up 0.7 percent from January to February of this year.

Despite these mediocre February numbers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ March employment numbers suggest the industry still added jobs that month. The residential specialty trade contractors segment increased employment by 7.5 percent from February to March, indicating there is plenty of work for door and window installers.

Meanwhile, architectural glass- and glazing-related construction was flat (0 percent change) month-over-month and declined 1.4 percent year-over-year, according to analysis from Key Media & Research.

Nonresidential construction increased 1.2 and 4.8 percent on a monthly and yearly basis, respectively. Work related to glass and glazing declined 0.6 percent for the month and increased just 0.9 percent for the year.

While the lodging and office sectors saw year-over-year spending increases of 7.6 and 5.2, respectively, the other “commercial” category was down 5.6 percent. On the institutional side, the educational sector provided a 3.6-percent lift, but that was cut into by healthcare building, which decreased construction at a 2.9-percent pace.

The nonresidential specialty trade contractors segment, which includes glaziers and ironworkers, increased employment by 5.5 percent from February to March.

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