Hiring at U.S. construction sites shifts into higher gear

82,000 jobs created between November and January

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The outlook for United States construction workers brightened with a report that showed growing momentum in hiring at building sites.

The U.S. Labor Department said 82,000 construction jobs were created between November and January, the biggest three-month gain since the three months ended April 2006. That suggests the recovery underway in the U.S. housing market, seen in appreciating home prices and more housing starts, may be leading to a stronger pace of hiring.

"We're seeing more demand for construction workers," said Jed Kolko, an economist at real estate website Trulia.

The housing rebound still has a long way to go before a full recovery, but growth in the sector will likely boost economic growth in 2013 for the second straight year.

The report showed the construction sector has added jobs every month since June, and that the pace of growth picked up
substantially in October.

"Now the upward trend looks more convincing," said Ryan Wang, an economist at HSBC in New York. If the pace of hiring
since October continues, the economy could add about 300,000 construction jobs this year, he said.

That would be the fastest pace since 2005, though it would only be one facet of the boost a housing recovery would give to
economic growth. Economists say that for every new single family home constructed, at least three permanent jobs are created as buyers shell out money to equip their homes.

Even if the October-January pace of construction hiring continued throughout 2013, the sector would only regain a sliver of the 1.5 million jobs that it lost in the recession.

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