Count of Open Construction Jobs in March

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By Robert Dietz

The number of open, unfilled construction sector positions remained elevated in March. Over the last few months, the construction labor market has experienced swings in the monthly count of new hires, as the share of open construction jobs has trended higher.

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) declined from 160,000 in February (the highest monthly total since 2007) to 147,000 in March.

The March estimate of open construction jobs is the third highest since the Great Recession ended.

On a three-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector held steady at 2.3% in March. Over the last year, the open construction jobs rate has typically been higher than the rates that were experienced during the 2001-2003 period prior to the building boom. The open rate has been trending upward since 2012.

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The March construction sector hiring rate, as measured on a three-month moving average basis, declined to 5.13%. March hiring in construction was soft, posting the smallest count of new hires since September of 2014 and a net decline in the number of jobs in residential construction. The March number of job quits held steady at 122,000.

Monthly employment data for April 2015 (the employment count data from the BLS establishment survey are published one month ahead of the JOLTS data) indicate that total employment in home building/remodeling stands at 2.452 million, broken down as 694,000 builders and 1.758 million residential specialty trade contractors.

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