The count of unfilled jobs in the construction sector increased in October, although the total remained lower than the August estimate, which marked a post-recession high.
According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and NAHB analysis, the number of open construction sector jobs expanded to 292,000 in October.
The open position rate (job openings as a percentage of total employment plus current job openings) increased to 3.8%. The rate was 3.2% a year ago. On a smoothed, twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector increased slightly to 3.3%, 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, held steady at 5% in October. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs declined to 2.3%. The trend for layoffs has been decreasing as the labor market tightens.
The recent slowing of the housing market should reduce some of the pressure on unfilled construction sector jobs, however that impact has not yet been seen in the labor market. Nonetheless, as labor remains a top cited challenge to expansion, builders will increasingly explore options to find ways to build more with less.