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April 2011, Vol. 134, No. 4
Construction employment peaks before the recession and falls sharply throughout it
Adam Hadi is an economist in the Division of Current Employment Statistics in the Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Job losses in residential construction began well before the 2007–09 recession, and employment in both residential and nonresidential construction declined rapidly during the recession
Construction employment fell by 1.5 million 1 during the December 2007–June 2009 recession, 2 bringing employment in the industry to the lowest level since March 1998. The losses during the recession represented a 19.8-percent decline in construction employment, the largest percent decline of any nonfarm industry supersector. The majority of the losses came during the last 9 months of the recession, when employment declined by 1 million. Job losses averaged 49,000 per month between December 2007 and September 2008 and then accelerated to an average of 115,000 per month through June 2009. Those construction firms which engaged primarily in residential construction activities started losing jobs more than a year before the recession started, and those firms which conducted primarily nonresidential and heavy construction projects did not start losing jobs until the onset of recession.
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1 The data on employment used in this article are from the CES survey, which is a monthly survey of approximately 140,000 nonfarm businesses and government agencies representing approximately 440,000 individual worksites. For more information on the CES program’s methods, see “Technical Notes to Establishment Survey Data Published in Employment and Earnings” at www.bls.gov//web/empsit/cestn2.htm (visited Apr. 5, 2011). CES data are available at www.bls.gov/ces/ (visited Apr. 5, 2011). The CES data used in this article are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise noted.
2 Recessions are identified by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). According to the NBER, the most recent recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. The previous two recessions were from March 2001 to November 2001 and from July 1990 to March 1991. For a complete list of business cycle dates, consult the NBER webpage at www.nber.org/cycles/cyclesmain.html (visited Nov. 2, 2010).
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