Job Openings and Hiring Increase in Construction

The count of unfilled jobs in the overall construction sector rose in July, nearing the post-Great Recession high set in March. Residential construction hiring has also increased, after a period of soft gains in jobs.

According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and NAHB analysis, the number of open construction sector jobs (on a seasonally adjusted basis) rose to 214,000 in July, after establishing a cycle high of 215,000 in March. The March estimate represents the highest monthly count of open, unfilled jobs since May 2007.

The open position rate (job openings as a percent of total employment) for July was 3.1%. On a smoothed twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector increased to 2.4%, a cycle high.

The overall trend for open construction jobs has been increasing since the end of the Great Recession. This is consistent with survey data indicating that access to labor remains a top business challenge for builders.

JOLTS

The construction sector hiring rate, as measured on a twelve-month moving average basis, ticked up to 4.9% in July.

Monthly employment data for August 2016 (the employment count data from the BLS establishment survey are published one month ahead of the JOLTS data) indicate that home builder and remodeler net hiring rebounded, as sector employment increased by 10,400. This gain comes after a recent period of hiring weakness, which has reduced the 6-month moving average of jobs gains for residential construction to just above 3,000.

Residential construction employment now stands at 2.597 million, broken down as 726,000 builders and 1.871 million residential specialty trade contractors.

res construction employment

Over the last 12 months home builders and remodelers have, nonetheless, added 132,000 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point of industry employment following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 611,000 positions.

In July, the unemployment rate for construction workers stood at 5.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate for the construction occupation had been on a general decline since reaching a peak rate of 22% in February 2010.



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