Construction Layoff Rate Dives

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The labor market continues to tighten. In the September BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data, the national number of job quits for all sectors (4.4 million) was up 34% year-over-year as worker churn accelerates. Total national job openings stands at 10.4 million. What had been, in prior years, a challenge in certain sectors, like construction, continues as a broad labor access issue as businesses seek workers as the economy expands.

The count of open construction jobs declined somewhat to 333,000 unfilled positions in September. The housing market remains underbuilt and requires additional labor, lots and lumber and building materials to add inventory.

Overall, hiring in the construction sector remained solid in September at a 4.7% 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. Hiring has been impeded due to a lack of workers.

Construction sector layoffs declined significantly to near a 4-year low, at a 1.6% 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 edged down to 4.3% in September, with 333,000 open positions in the sector. This is higher than the 232,000 count recorded a year ago.

Looking forward, the construction job openings rate is likely to see increased upward pressure as both the residential and nonresidential construction sectors trend higher. Attracting skilled labor will remain a key objective for construction firms in the coming quarters and will become more challenging as the labor market strengthens and the unemployment rate declines.



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