Construction employment slipped by 3,000 jobs in December, while average hourly earnings accelerated, according to an analysis of government data by the Associated General Contractors of America.
The trade group notes that recent construction spending numbers and its own survey of members suggest demand for construction remains strong, suggesting that the lack of hiring may be due to a shortage of available workers.
"This report presents mixed signals about the state of the construction industry," association chief economist Ken Simonson said in a statement. "Although a dip in employment might normally be a sign of declining demand, in this case the industry is raising wages and taking other steps to attract and retain workers. Construction spending in November (2016) hit a 10-year high, with one-month and year-over-year increases in all major segments. Looking ahead, contractors say they expect more work in every category in 2017 than in 2016."