July Hiring Reduces August Job Openings

The number of open, unfilled construction sector positions declined in August, after a significant increase in hiring in July. Nonetheless, the current estimate of open construction jobs is higher than the total recorded a year ago.

According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the number of open construction sector jobs for August  (on a seasonally adjusted basis) stood at 115,000, down from 139,000 in July. This decline was preceded in July by a notable increase in construction hiring, reaching 371,000 for the month and nearing a post-recession monthly high.

On a three-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector remained steady at 2.20% for the month of August.  The long-run trend remains consistent with a rising number of unfilled positions in construction.

JOLTS_aug

The sector hiring rate, as measured on a three-month moving average basis, remained effectively flat at 5.17% in August.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the construction occupation unemployment rate fell to 8.3% for September (published one month ahead of the JOLTS data), down from 10.1% a year ago. Construction sector unemployment peaked at 22% (seasonally adjusted basis) in February 2010.

Monthly employment data for September 2014 (the employment count data from the BLS establishment survey are also published one month ahead of the JOLTS data) indicate that total employment in home building/remodeling stands at 2.307 million, broken down as 678,000 builders and 1.630 million residential specialty trade contractors.

res constr_sept

Over the last year, the residential construction sector has added 129,000 jobs. Since the point of peak decline of home building employment, when total job losses for the industry stood at 1.466 million, 323,600 positions have been added to the residential construction sector as of September. Over the last six months the home building and remodeling industry has added on average about 11,000 jobs per month.

For the economy as a whole, the August JOLTS data indicate that the hiring rate fell to 3.3% of total employment. The hiring rate has been in the 3.1% to 3.5% range since January 2011. The overall job openings rate increased to 3.4%, the highest rate of open jobs for the overall labor market since 2007. This signals good news ahead for job creation and housing demand.



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