At the start of the third quarter, employment gains and the unemployment rate ticked down.
According to the Employment Situation for July 2017 reported by the BLS, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 209,000 in July, after an upwardly revised 231,000 gains in June. Employment growth averaged 184,000 so far this year, close to the average monthly growth in 2016. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate was back to the 16-year low of 4.3%, from 4.4% in June. The labor force participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage point to 62.9% in July.
In July, the number of employed persons increased by 345,000; the number of unemployed persons was little changed; the number of persons not in the labor force declined by 156,000. All of these favorable changes accounted for the decrease in the unemployment rate and the increase in the labor force participation rate.
Monthly employment data, released by the BLS Establishment Survey, also indicate that construction employment increased by 6,000 over the month.
Residential construction employment is now 2.7 million, broken down as 767,000 builders and 1.93 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction now was close to 3,000 a month. Over the last 12 months home builders and remodelers have added 118,300 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point of industry employment following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 717,200 positions.
In July, the unemployment rate for construction workers climbed to 6.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis, from 5.1% in June. After reaching a peak rate of 22% in February 2010, the unemployment rate for the construction occupation had been on a general decline and remained relatively low recently.