Construction work is becoming harder and harder to find. The residential building sector lost another 10,700 jobs in April compared to the previous month, according to Friday's employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, the (seasonally adjusted) number of such jobs has dropped 10.7 percent in a year, landing at 860,600.

While the residential specialty trade contractor employment market is larger than residential building, it has also seen greater contractions in the housing downturn. The number (also seasonally adjusted) of residential specialty trade contractor jobs has fallen 22.4 percent year over year, to 2.1 million.

When it came to the larger economy, though, the April employment numbers were not so grim, with a loss of only 20,000 jobs overall. Sectors such as health care and professional and technical services all added workers.

"The April employment report was a curious mixture. The headline jobs decline was less than expected, helped by an improvement in private services, but the most cyclically sensitive indicators in the report showed unrelenting weakness," Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for Global Insight in Lexington, Mass., said in his analysis. "Overall, payroll employment declined 20,000, so the report can hardly be described as strong, but that was a better result than expected, and the smallest decline so far this year."

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Alison Rice is a contributing editor to Builder Online.