Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data for October from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that the national economy, while sluggish, continues to trend better with respect to job openings. Total job openings for all non-farm sectors were essentially unchanged at 3.3 million.
The job openings rate of 2.4% for October remains at levels last consistently experienced in 2008. The growing number of open positions bodes well for future employment growth, provided employers can find workers with needed job skills and employees can relocate to areas with open jobs. However, relocation can sometimes be a challenge given ongoing weakness in the housing market.
Hiring in the construction sector (both residential and non-residential) remained positive in October, although September’s surprisingly positive hiring level was revised downward. The hiring rate remained at a relatively high level of 5.8% in October.
The total number of construction hires in September was revised down from 404,000 to 367,000. For October, total hires in construction stood at 320,000.
Total construction sector hires in 2011 are still on pace to exceed total separations for the first time since 2006, with hires now exceeding quits, layoffs, and other separations by 40,000 positions.
This would be a significant change from recent years, during which the construction sector produced a significant net drag on job creation. However, the 2011 total of net hires in the construction sector will be small, particularly relative to what the industry can generate when housing starts grow at a more robust rate.