Construction Grows as Jobs Shrink

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Robison Wells

Last month saw a drop in 140,000 jobs, attributable to increases in COVID cases and efforts to contain the pandemic, said a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, there was good news for construction: the industry's jobs grew 51,000 in December.

Of the jobs, 9,000 were residential, 18,000 were nonresidential specialty trade, and 18,000 were heavy and civil engineering construction.  

"The job numbers came in lower in December, but that was to be expected as the stimulus money from the first package during the spring months was fizzling out, and from new COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in some localities. The economy will turn higher very soon due to the second stimulus package that was passed in late December, and steady vaccine distribution," said National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "One of the top priorities for President-elect Biden will be to send additional money to go out in the early weeks of his administration. Therefore, the economy should be on a good upswing by late spring."

Because of the expected new spending on additional stimulus, economists plan to see a slight increase in mortgage rates, which may slow the residential sector's massive growth. The 30-year mortgage rate will move up from its current record low of 2.65 percent to possibly 2.9 percent by June.

More good news: although new workers filled the 51,000 new jobs, more job openings became available.

The total unemployment rate remains unchanged at 6.7 percent, close to the pre-COVID February rate of 6.5 percent. The most significant amount of job losses in the recent month were in leisure and hospitality.

Amid a pandemic-driven unemployment catastrophe, those who work in the construction sector can find hope in an upward swing in job opportunities.

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