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Construction Unemployment Nears 20 Percent as Another 27,000 Construction Workers Lose Their Jobs in November

Eighty-Six Percent of Job Losses Come From Non-Residential Construction Sector Though Good Weather Likely Contributed to Fewer Job Losses Than in Previous Months

Despite a slowing in the number of construction workers losing jobs in November, 19.4 percent of the nation's construction workers are now unemployed according to new federal figures released today. The figures show that unemployment rates within the construction industry remain significantly higher than any other sector of the economy, the Associated General Contractors of America said.

"The fact fewer people lost their job in construction this month is little solace for the one in five construction workers out of a job today," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "This is yet another reminder that our economy will not be able to fully recover until we find new ways to drive demand for construction services."

Simonson said new November employment data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 27,000 construction workers lost their job in November, compared to 56,000 in October. The decline in construction layoffs was likely caused by better than expected work conditions in November, given the unusually good weather much of the country experienced last month, Simonson noted.

Among construction workers losing jobs in November, 86 percent (23,900) worked in nonresidential construction while 3,800 worked in residential construction, Simonson noted. He added that since January 2007, residential and nonresidential construction employment has declined by over 1.7 million.

"With construction unemployment nearing 20 percent, our economy can't afford the significant cuts in infrastructure spending scheduled for next year," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer, noting federal highway and transit investments are set to fall by over $15 billion, nearly 20 percent, in 2010 compared to 2009.

He urged Congress and the Administration to boost infrastructure investments as part of any new jobs measure. He added that Washington should take additional measures outlined in the association's construction recovery plan designed to boost infrastructure investments, increase demand for construction services and expand the economy. "You can't just hope for a better future, you have to build it," Sandherr said.

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