Construction Sector Job Openings Steady During Economy’s Soft Patch

Job data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (JOLTS data) confirm that the U.S economy hit a soft patch during the summer of 2011, particularly with respect to the labor market. Nonetheless, the battered but recovering construction sector job market seems unaffected thus far.

For the economy as a whole, layoffs increased by more than 10% from May to June. In fact, on a seasonally adjusted basis the number of layoffs in June (1.775 million) was the highest level recorded by the economy since August of 2010. The layoff rate, measured as a share of total employment and graphed below, increased accordingly to 1.4%, after four consecutive months of recording a rate of 1.2%.

For the construction sector, the number of hires in June (348,000) remained relatively high (for the post-2008 period). Moreover, the total number of construction hires for May was revised up from 339,000 to 355,000. The job openings rate for construction remained at 1.6%, with a total of 87,000 positions unfilled.

Moving to the 2011 year-to-date totals, this year still looks to be the first year since the Great Recession for which total hires for the construction sector will outpace total separations. However, through June total hires exceed total separations by only 20,000.