The residential building and specialty trade contractors categories, which include installers of doors and windows, saw lower employment numbers in March, according to DWM analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Employment in residential building was down 1 percent, though the year-over-year jobs number increased by 3.9 percent with the addition of 31,000 laborers.

Residential specialty trade contractors decreased employment by 0.3 percent from February to March (-6,600 jobs) but increased it by 3.7 percent from March 2016 (69,400 jobs).

Overall construction employment remained mostly unchanged, with its 6,000-job increase accounting for a less than 0.1-percent bump over the month. Employment in the sector increased 2.8 percent (177,000) for the year.

According to the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the construction industry unemployment rate, available only on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, fell by 0.4 percent in March and stands at 8.4 percent. The national unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percent to 4.5 percent.

“With the nation’s unemployment rate now at just 4.5 percent, there is little reason to believe that securing construction talent is set to become easier,” says ABC chief economist Anirban Basu. “In fact, the skilled worker shortages already experienced by many contractors are likely to become more severe as the year proceeds. The average contractor can therefore anticipate sharper compensation cost increases, particularly as firms securing new work scramble to put together project teams.”

The jobs report comes on the heels of a report showing construction spending in February totaled $1.192 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. The February rate was up 0.8 percent from the prior month and 3.0 percent from February 2016.

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