Total payroll employment increased by 145,000 and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.5% in December. Residential construction employment increased by 3,200 in December, after a decline of 1,100 jobs in November (revised). Total construction industry (both residential and nonresidential) employment totaled about 7.6 million in December.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Employment Situation Summary for December. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 145,000 in December, following an increase of 256,000 jobs in November. Job gains in the previous two months (November and October) were revised downward. With the downward revisions, the average monthly employment growth reduced to 176,000 for the year of 2019, less than the average monthly growth of 223,000 over all of 2018. Over the past twelve months, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2.1 million.
The 2010s were ended with a steady labor market. During the 2010s, the job market has reported job gains continuously for nine years, and monthly employment growth averaged 188,000 jobs. In the previous decade (2000s), the job market lost 8,000 jobs monthly, on average, due to the large job losses during the Great Recession and additional job losses associated with the recession at the start of the decade.
In December, the unemployment rate remained unchanged, at a 50-year low of 3.5%. Over the month, the number of unemployed persons was little changed (-58,000), while the number of employed persons increased by 267,000. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate, the proportion of the population either looking for a job or already with a job, held at 63.2% in December.
Additionally, monthly employment data released by the BLS Establishment Survey indicates that employment in the overall construction sector increased by 20,000 in December. The number of residential construction jobs increased by 3,200 in December, following a decline of 1,100 jobs in November.
Residential construction employment now stands at 2.9 million in December, broken down as 845,000 builders and 2.1 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction is 3,017 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers added 50,400 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 939,400 positions.
In December, the unemployment rate for construction workers decreased to 4.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis, from 4.9% in November. The unemployment rate for the construction sector has been trending downwards since February 2010 and remains historically low.
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