The count of unfilled jobs in the construction sector increased in January, nearing a post-recession high set in July of 2017.
According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and NAHB analysis, the number of open construction sector jobs increased to 250,000 at the start of the year. 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 159,000, a year ago in January 2017.
The open position rate (job openings as a percentage of total employment) for January increased to 3.4%. On a smoothed, twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector ticked up to 2.9%, a post-recession high.
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, slipped to 5.2% in January, as job openings rose. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs is falling again, declining to 2.6%. The quits rate increased to 2.4% in January.
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.