Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 157,000, seasonally adjusted, in January and 2,016,000 (1.5%) since January 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Feb. 1. The unemployment rate was 8.5%, not seasonally adjusted (7.9%, seasonally adjusted), down from 8.8% a year earlier. Construction employment rose for the eighth straight month and totaled 5,731,000, seasonally adjusted, the most since October 2009. That was an increase of 28,000 from December and 102,000 (1.8%) from January 2012.
Total hours worked in construction increased by 2.3% over the year, implying that contractors are lengthening working hours and also hiring new workers. The unemployment rate for former construction workers dropped from 17.7%, not seasonally adjusted, in January 2012 to 16.1%. Residential construction employment (residential building and specialty trade contractors) rose by 14,500, seasonally adjusted, for the month and 53,200 (2.6%) for the year. Nonresidential employment (building, specialty trades and heavy and civil engineering construction) climbed 13,700 in January and 48,900 (1.4%) over 12 months.