Hiring in the construction sector is up year-over-year, suggesting the sector is moving toward recovery, Freddie Mac said in its latest U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook report. However, the industry's job numbers still lag the national average.

The unemployment rate for construction workers remained at 12.8% in June. At the same time, 48% of construction workers have been without work for the past six months.  

While the market is still shaky, hiring in construction picked up year-over-year in June while the unemployment rate for workers in this category fell at least 2.8 percentage points from June of last year. 

Freddie Mac's update suggests gradual growth in the economy will push construction job growth back to an average monthly pace of 150,000 in the second half of 2012.

"While housing may not have played its traditional role coming out of the Great Recession, at the end of the day, it has turned a very large corner and now it's time to get this sector back to work whether through construction jobs, remodeling, or home brokerage," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac.

The Freddie market update suggests record low interest rates will continue to fuel housing demand, prompting an increase in housing starts and home sales.

Growth in the sector is needed with construction still lagging behind other parts of the economy. Freddie said overall payroll employment across all industries rose 1.8 million in the past 12 months. Yet, construction employment was up only 13,000.

kpanchuk@housingwire.com