Open Construction Jobs Fall in May


The count of unfilled jobs in the construction sector declined in May, falling to level below that recorded a year ago.

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) stood at 154,000 in May. The cycle high was 238,000, set in July of last year.

The open position rate (job openings as a percent of total employment) for May came in at 2.2%. On a smoothed twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector declined to a still elevated level of 2.6%.

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, recent data indicate a slowing in the count of unfilled construction jobs, albeit at levels higher prior to 2016.

The construction sector hiring rate, as measured on a twelve-month moving average basis, increased slightly to 5.2% in May. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs was steady (2.7%), remaining in a range set in 2014. The recent increase in the quits rate, an indicator of labor market churn, slowed in May to a 2% rate.

Overall, the labor market for construction workers remains tight as it continues to expand. Home builders and remodelers added 115,600 job over the last 12 months, and industry employment has increased by almost 713,000 since the low point after the Great Recession. As housing starts continue to increase, more workers will be needed in the residential construction sector.

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