The number of open, unfilled construction sector positions declined in September, after increases in hiring during the end of the summer. Nonetheless, the current open job rate exceeds the average for 2011, 2012, and 2013.
According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the number of open construction sector jobs for September (on a seasonally adjusted basis) stood at 98,000, down from 121,000 in August. This decline was preceded in July and August by a notable increase in construction hiring, totaling 701,000 positions filled for those two months.
On a three-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector declined to 1.93% for the month of September. Despite the recent drop, this rate remains higher than any level prior to the start of 2013 during the post-recession period.
The sector hiring rate, as measured on a three-month moving average basis, remained flat at 5.33%, after a significant rise during the summer.
Monthly employment data for October 2014 (the employment count data from the BLS establishment survey are published one month ahead of the JOLTS data) indicate that total employment in home building/remodeling stands at 2.318 million, broken down as 676,200 builders and 1.642 million residential specialty trade contractors.
In October, home builders and remodelers added 8,000 jobs to the residential construction sector on a seasonal adjusted basis. Over the last 12 months, the industry has created 131,000 jobs.
Since the low point of industry employment following the Great Recession, the residential construction industry has gained 333,700 positions, although employment remains 1.132 million lower than the peak level seen in early 2006. Employment growth for the sector has been steady recently, adding on average just a little more than 10,000 jobs per month over the last six months.
For the economy as a whole, the September JOLTS data indicate that the hiring rate rose to 3.6% of total employment. The hiring rate had been in the 3.1% to 3.5% range since January 2011. The overall job openings rate increased ticked down to 3.3%, after reaching in August the highest rate of open jobs for the overall labor market since 2007. This signals good news ahead for job creation and housing demand.