The count of unfilled jobs in the overall construction sector increased in September, as residential construction employment continued to grow.
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) grew to 221,000 in September, after establishing a cycle high of 225,000 in July. The July estimate represents the highest monthly count of open, unfilled jobs since February 2007.
The open position rate (job openings as a percent of total employment) for September was 3.2%. On a smoothed twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector increased to 2.6%, setting a cycle high and surpassing the top twelve-month moving average rate set prior to the recession.
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, fell back to 4.6% in September.
Monthly employment data for October 2016 (the employment count data from the BLS establishment survey are published one month ahead of the JOLTS data) indicate that home builder and remodeler net hiring continued to grow, as sector employment increased by 4,500 after posting a 13,200 gain in September. These gains come after a recent period of hiring weakness, which has reduced the 6-month moving average of jobs gains for residential construction to just under 5,000.
Residential construction employment now stands at 2.618 million, broken down as 737,000 builders and 1.881 million residential specialty trade contractors.
Over the last 12 months home builders and remodelers have added 140,000 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point of industry employment following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 632,000 positions.
In October, the unemployment rate for construction workers stood at 6.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate for the construction occupation has been on a general decline since reaching a peak rate of 22% in February 2010.