Good news, for a change, for building industry

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Amid the daily reports about a continually sagging residential housing industry, commercial constructors say they have something to celebrate.

The Associated General Contractors of America says Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show that during the past 12 months, employment in the three nonresidential categories – nonresidential building, specialty trades, plus heavy and civil engineering – climbed 42,000 or 1 percent.

“Although total construction employment fell by 5,000 in October, seasonally adjusted, and 106,000 or 1.4 percent compared to October 2006, all of those losses occurred in homebuilding,” said AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson.

Simonson also compared Census Bureau figures for September, showing that residential construction spending was down 16 percent from the prior year, as was employment. Nonresidential construction showed a 17 percent gain.

“That means about 400,000 residential specialty trade contractors are now doing nonresidential electrical, plumbing and other work,” he said.