Residential Construction Employment Grew in November

The count of unfilled jobs in the overall construction sector remained elevated in October, as residential construction employment continued to grow.

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) came in at 205,000 in October, after reaching 221,000 in September. The cycle high was 225,000 set in July.

The open position rate (job openings as a percent of total employment) for October was 3%. On a smoothed twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector increased to 2.7%, setting a cycle high and surpassing the top twelve-month moving average rate established prior to the recession.

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.

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The construction sector hiring rate, as measured on a twelve-month moving average basis, remained steady at 4.9% in October. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs was also steady (2.7%), remaining in a range set last Fall.

Monthly employment data for November 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 jumped significantly, as sector employment increased by 19,600. The November gains continue the improvement in the Fall after a period of hiring weakness early in 2016. The 6-month moving average of jobs gains for residential construction has now increased to a healthier 10,400 per month.

Residential construction employment now stands at 2.644 million, broken down as 743,000 builders and 1.901 million residential specialty trade contractors.

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Over the last 12 months home builders and remodelers have added 120,000 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point of industry employment following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 658,000 positions.

In November, the unemployment rate for construction workers stood at 6.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate for the construction occupation has been on a general decline since reaching a peak rate of 22% in February 2010, although it has level off in the 5% to 6% range since the middle of 2016.



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