Construction employment gained 2.6%, or 5,000 new jobs, in April over the same month in 2016, according to the latest figures – released in early May.

The data reflects a continued, if tepid, slow and steady increase in construction work – both commercial and residential.

The slow and steady upward trend nationally relfects similar patterns in Florida and Southwest Florida. Henning Florida is among the Sunshine State’s premier commercial and residential builders.

“(The May) employment report confirms that the U.S. economic expansion remains firmly in place,” said Anirban Basu, chief economist for Associated Builders and Contractors, an industry trade group, also known simply as ABC.

Construction employment gained 2.6% “That said, the simultaneous expansion in job totals and ongoing slow GDP growth indicate that the average net new job is associated with relatively low output,” Basu continued. “This is consistent with still-soft productivity growth and somewhat sluggish wage growth relative to expectations. Construction has been especially susceptible to weak productivity growth in recent years, in part because skilled workers capable of delivering elevated productivity remain in such short supply. The scarcity of skilled craftspeople helps explain the scant 0.2 percent growth in nonresidential building construction employment over the past year.”

Nonresidential construction added 3,200 new jobs during the month while specialty trade contractors eliminated 5,100 jobs.

“Recent construction spending data indicate that overall nonresidential construction activity is climbing only slowly,” said Basu. “This implies that hiring will remain moderate for the foreseeable future. Naturally, if the administration in Washington, D.C., is able to implement a significant portion of its pro-business agenda, the rate of job growth will eventually accelerate appreciably.”

The construction industry unemployment rate, which is available only on a nonseasonally adjusted basis, fell 2.1 percentage points in April and now stands at 6.3 percent, according to government figures.

“Due to seasonal factors, the industry unemployment rate almost always plummets from March to April. Since 2009, that decline as averaged 2.3 percentage points,” explains ABC. “The national unemployment rate inched down from 4.5 percent in March to 4.4 percent in April. This is the lowest nationwide rate since May of 2007.”