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Construction employment increased by 228,000 jobs over the past year despite a weather-related dip last month, and the industry’s unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent, the lowest yet for March, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials called for revitalizing and adequately funding career and technical education and training programs to ensure that employment in the high-paying industry would continue to grow.

“Construction employment indicators are still signaling strong demand on an annual basis, even though unusually bad weather in several regions probably depressed hiring in March,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Employment is rising twice as fast as for the overall economy, pay rates and growth are outpacing the private sector as a whole, and the industry’s unemployment rate was the lowest ever for March.”

Construction employment totaled 7,150,000 in March, a dip of 15,000 for the month but an increase of 228,000, or 3.3 percent, over 12 months. The economist pointed out that the year-over-year growth rate in industry jobs was more than double the 1.5 percent rise in total nonfarm payroll employment.