Posted on June 6, 2017 by Jorie Helms

The count of unfilled jobs in the construction sector climbed in April, rising to the highest level since September of last year.

According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and NAHB analysis, the number of open construction sector jobs (on a seasonally adjusted basis) stood at 203,000 in April. The cycle high was 238,000, set in July of last year.

The open position rate (job openings as a percent of total employment) for April came in at 2.9%. On a smoothed twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector held steady at 2.66%, near the cycle high.

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, held at 5.1% in April. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs was steady (2.6%), remaining in a range set in 2014.

Quits have been rising recently, holding at an elevated 2.4% in April. This measure is consistent with other data illustrating a tight and competitive labor market for construction workers.

Monthly employment data for May 2017 (the employment count data from the BLS establishment survey are published one month ahead of the JOLTS data) indicate that home builder and remodeler employment increased by 7,100. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction now stands at somewhat above 8,000 a month.

Residential construction employment is now 2.697 million, broken down as 767,000 builders and 1.93 million residential specialty trade contractors.

Over the last 12 months home builders and remodelers have added 120,000 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point of industry employment following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 714,600 positions.

In May, the unemployment rate for construction workers stood at 5.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate for the construction occupation had been on a general decline since reaching a peak rate of 22% in February 2010, although it has leveled off in the 6% to 7% range since the middle of 2016.

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