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Despite a Dip in Construction Jobs for July, Industry Struggles to Hire Qualified Workers

After peaking in June, the number of construction jobs in San Diego County in July fell to 79,900, according to data tracked by the California Employment Development Department.

That’s down 700 jobs from the prior month in which the county recorded 80,600 construction jobs, more than San Diego has had since the latest recession took hold, the EDD data show.

Prior to 2017 the last time there were more than 80,000 construction jobs in San Diego County was December of 2007, when there were 81,300.

The tight labor market may have played a role in the reduction in local jobs in construction in July.

As the unemployment rate shrinks, those looking to hire construction workers say it is getting tougher to find qualified applicants as companies compete for a reduced number of potential hires.

While San Diego County’s unemployment rate increased last month to 4.7 percent from 4.3 percent in June, the increase was likely the result of seasonal trends, not a reversal in the trend toward higher employment.

“Construction firms added employees over the past year at a much higher rate than the public and private sectors as a whole, but the low unemployment rates in construction and the overall economy suggests contractors are having difficulty filling positions,” said Ken Simonson, the Associated General Contractors of America’s chief economist, of the numbers nationwide. “Although construction spending has slowed, many contractors are still looking for qualified craft workers and project managers.”

Still, even with the dip in local construction jobs in July the number of construction jobs in San Diego County was 3 percent higher than it was a year ago.

From July of 2016 to July of 2017 California added 51,000 construction jobs, a 6.6 percent increase — more than any other state.

Construction employment in the U.S. grew 2.8 percent year over year in July, nearly double the 1.5 percent overall rise in employment, according to the AGC.

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