The count of unfilled jobs in the construction sector was effectively unchanged in April, remaining near post-Great Recession high levels.
According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and NAHB analysis, the number of open construction sector jobs came in at 232,000. 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 relatively unchanged compared to April of last year.
The open position rate (job openings as a percentage of total employment plus current job openings) for April ticked down to 3.1%. On a smoothed, twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector remained at 2.9%, 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, ticked down to 5.1% in April. However, in May home builders, remodelers and nonresidential builders added 25,000 jobs on a net basis. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs fell to 2.5%.
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.