A closer look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Job Openings and Labor Turn Over Survey (JOLTS) for November — with an emphasis on the construction labor market and additional analysis provided by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) — reveals that the construction labor market remains tight as the number of quits accelerated.
According to the report, the number of open/unfilled construction positions in November dropped to 345,000, or -4.4%. This occurred after recording the highest measure in the history of the data series (which dates back to 2000) of 445,000 open positions in October. A year ago, the unfilled position count was 261,000.
Hiring in the construction sector remained robust in November, increasing to a 5.6% growth 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 slowed in early 2021, with the exception of a weather-related rebound in March 2021. While hiring has been impeded due to a lack of workers, jobs gains have increased during the second half of 2021.
Construction sector layoffs ticked up in November to a 2.4% 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 rate has trended lower in 2021 due to the skilled labor shortage.
The “Great Resignation” continues and the number of job quits in November reached 4.5 million Americans. Quits also increased somewhat in the construction sector, rising to 207,000 in November — a series high.
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