The count of unfilled jobs in the construction sector declined in September. Given the significant need for repair and restoration work in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we can expect increases in the months ahead.
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) fell to 196,000 in September.
The open position rate (job openings as a percent of total employment) for September softened to 2.8%. On a smoothed twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector held steady at 2.6%.
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. However, after a spate of data at the start of the year indicate a leveling off of the count of unfilled construction jobs, the count of open positions increased in recent months.
The construction sector hiring rate, as measured on a twelve-month moving average basis, continued to increase, rising to 5.4% in September. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs also inched higher (2.8%), but remained in a range set in 2014. The quits rate increased to 2.2%. Overall, the uptick in hiring along with rise in job openings is consistent with a construction market that is supply-side constrained.
Overall, the labor market for construction workers remains tight as it continues to expand. As single-family housing starts continue to increase and rebuilding efforts in Texas and Florida proceed, more workers will be needed in the residential construction sector.