Job openings in construction declined in February to 266,000 unfilled positions, according to data from the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). Hiring appeared to gain steam in February, although this was perhaps just statistical noise for the monthly data. However, March payroll employment numbers indicate strength ahead for the JOLTS construction data.
Overall, hiring in the construction sector increased in February, rising to a 5.4% 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 February to a 3.4% rate, perhaps due to weather effects in the South. In April 2020, the layoff rate was 10.9%. Since that time however, the sector layoff rate has been below 3%, with the exception of February 2021 itself.
The job openings rate in construction dipped in February to 3.5%, with 266,000 open positions in the sector. This is lower than the 302,000 count recorded a year ago.
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.