The count of unfilled jobs in the construction sector increased in October. This increase occurred during a period of expansion for repair and remodeling work in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
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) increased to 227,000 in October. This count is close to the cycle high of 238,000 set in July of 2016.
The open position rate (job openings as a percent of total employment) for October increased to 3.2%. On a smoothed, twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector ticked up to 2.7%.
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 period of soft hiring at the start of 2017, recent estimates for the job openings rate have been in a range set during 2016.
The construction sector hiring rate, as measured on a twelve-month moving average basis, was unchanged at 5.4% in October. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs has nonetheless been rising since the Spring. The quits rate increased noticeably in October to 2.5%.
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 continue, more workers will be needed in the residential construction sector.