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Construction unemployment rate climbs to 17.3 percent

| November 10, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Even as the number of people working in construction increased by 5,000 between September and October 2010, the industry's unemployment rate rose to 17.3 percent, according to an analysis of federal employment figures released today by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Temporary government investments boosted commercial construction employment, offsetting further job losses in residential construction, association officials noted.

"Despite significant help from programs like the BRAC and the stimulus, construction employment continues to lag behind much of the private sector," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "It is yet another indicator that the economy has a long way to grow before demand for new office buildings, retail centers and manufacturing facilities returns."

Association officials noted that construction employment lagged behind other sectors of the economy. For example, while total private employment rose by 1.1 million during the past 12 months, the construction industry lost 122,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the industry's unemployment rate is nearly double the unadjusted national rate of 9.5 percent.

Nonresidential construction fared relatively well in October compared to residential construction, association officials said. Nonresidential construction employment added 10,300 jobs since September, while residential construction lost 5,800 jobs. Nonresidential specialty construction added 7,300 jobs and heavy and civil engineering added 4,800 jobs. However, nonresidential building construction employment declined by 1,800 jobs between September and October.

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