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SD construction employment jumps by 700 jobs in August

Local construction employment in August increased month-to-month, but was down from a year ago, according to the latest data released by the state Employment Development Department.

There were 58,300 construction jobs in San Diego County in August, up 700 (1.2 percent) from July, but down 1,800 (3 percent) from August 2012. September's local employment data has been delayed due to the government shutdown earlier this month. No new release date has been set.

Economists said federal reductions in spending, the military sector in particular, have hurt the local construction industry in recent months.

Of the 58,300 construction jobs in August, specialty trade contractors made up the most, with 40,200 workers, followed by 12,400 general contractors, and 5,700 heavy and civil engineering contractors.

Of the 40,200 specialty trade contractors, 16,900 were building equipment contractors, 10,100 were building finishing contractors, 8,400 were building foundation and exterior contractors, and 4,800 were other specialty trade contractors.

The construction sector saw some of the highest job losses year-over-year, with specialty trade contractors taking the brunt of the losses -- 1,400 jobs lost from August of last year.

California's construction employment in August was at 616,500 jobs, up from 608,800 in July, and 587,400 in August of last year.

Nationally, construction employment rose by 20,000 jobs in September, totaling 5.8 million. The industry’s unemployment rate fell to a six-year low of 8.5 percent.

Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors, said increases came from residential, private nonresidential and public construction.

"But on a year-over-year basis, public construction has continued its long decline, private nonresidential spending is mixed and only home and apartment construction is booming," he said.

Simonson added that construction employment rose in September, while construction spending increased for the fifth consecutive month in August; however, this data does not address any potential impacts from the federal government shutdown.

"Both of these reports show the industry was doing relatively well before the federal government shutdown forced many firms to hit the pause button," Simonson said. "But the shutdown likely disrupted a wide variety of projects and may have caused private investors and developers to delay decisions about new projects or plant expansions. As a result, future spending and hiring gains may be weaker."

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