Job openings in construction increased in January to the highest count since the Fall of 2019 according to data from the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). Hiring in construction was strong as 2021 began. However, construction employment did decline in February as material prices increased. The JOLTS data is reported with a one-month lag, so the February data is available next month. The current release, for the January data, included significant revisions for the last five years of data.
Overall, hiring in the construction sector dipped in January, falling to a 4.9% rate. The peak rate of hiring in 2020 occurred in May (10.3%) as a rebound took hold in home building and remodeling.
Construction sector layoffs ticked up in January to a 2.7% rate. In April, the layoff rate was 10.9%, after a loss of 8.3% in March. Since that time however, the sector layoff rate has been below 3%.
The job openings rate in construction increased in January to 4%, with 309,000 open positions in the sector. This is higher than the 296,000 count recorded a year ago and the highest since October 2019 (324,000).
Looking forward, the construction job openings rate is likely to experience choppiness in the months ahead given divergent outlooks within the construction industry. Home building and remodeling were relative bright spots for the overall economy in 2020, while nonresidential construction is experiencing greater headwinds. Nonetheless, attracting skilled labor will remain a key objective for residential and nonresidential construction firms in the coming quarters, as evidenced by the rise in open construction sector jobs in January 2021.
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