Crosswinds for Construction Job Openings

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The count of open construction jobs declined in May to 299,000 unfilled positions, according to data from the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). The housing market remains hot and requires additional labor, lots and lumber and building materials to add inventory.

Overall, hiring in the construction sector remained strong in May, ticking down to a 4.2% rate. The post-virus peak rate of hiring occurred in May 2020 (10.3%) as a rebound took hold in home building and remodeling. Hiring has generally slowed since that time, with the exception of a weather-related rebound in March 2021.

Construction sector layoffs remained steady in May at a 2.1% rate. 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 due to weather effects.

The job openings rate in construction declined to 3.9% in May, with 299,000 open positions in the sector. This is slightly higher than the 281,000 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. For example, in June, residential construction posted a jobs gain, while nonresidential construction experienced a job loss. Nonetheless, attracting skilled labor will remain a key objective for residential and nonresidential construction firms in the coming quarters and will become more challenging as the rest of the economy recovers.



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