Count of Unfilled Construction Jobs Remains Near Cycle High

The count of unfilled jobs in the construction sector was flat in May, remaining near post-Great Recession high levels.

According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and NAHB analysis, the number of open construction sector jobs came in at 243,000. The post-recession high count of open, unfilled construction jobs was 255,000 in July of last year. The number of open construction sector jobs was higher than May of last year, when the count totaled 183,000.

The open position rate (job openings as a percentage of total employment plus current job openings) for May was flat at 3.3%. On a smoothed, twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector increased to almost 3%, a post-recession high. The peak (smoothed) rate during the building boom prior to the recession was just below 2.7%. For the current cycle, the sector has been above that rate since November 2016.

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.

The construction sector hiring rate, as measured on a twelve-month moving average basis, increased to 5.3% in May. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs was unchanged at 2.5%.

NAHB expects construction sector net hiring to continue in 2018 as the single-family construction market expands. However, as labor remains a top cited challenge to expansion, builders will increasingly explore options to find ways to build more with less.



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