Job losses shrink but not in construction; stimulus news is mixed; factory orders rise
Nonfarm payroll employment fell in July by 247,000, seasonally adjusted, about half the monthly rate over the 12 months since July 2008, when jobs losses totaled 5,740,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday [Aug. 7]. In contrast, construction employment fell by 76,000, only slightly less than the 12-month average loss of 88,000 per month.
Construction accounted for 30 percent of the losses in June and 18 percent of the losses in the 12-month span, although the industry’s 6,148,000 jobs in June 2009 accounted for less than 5 percent of the nonfarm total. The rate of job loss in residential construction (residential building and specialty trade contractors) slowed slightly (to 1.1 percent in July, vs. 16.4 percent over 12 months) but nonresidential (building, specialty trades and heavy and civil engineering) construction losses accelerated (1.3 percent in July, 13.5 percent over 12 months). In a bad sign for future demand for construction, employment in architectural and
engineering services slumped 1.0 percent for the month and 8.7 percent over 12 months. The unemployment rate overall was 9.7 percent, not seasonally adjusted (9.4 percent, seasonally adjusted), and 18.2 percent for construction, the highest of any industry. (Industry rates are not reported on a seasonally adjusted basis.) Average hourly earnings in construction rose 4 cents for the month to $22.68, up 3.8 percent from a year earlier, compared to a 2.5 percent annual increase for all private production or nonsupervisory workers, according to a report in the Aug. 5-11 Data DIGest.