US Construction Jobs, Housing Starts by Intent: Aug & 2Q 2018

The count of unfilled jobs in the construction sector increased in August, reaching yet another post-Great Recession high level. The rate of open construction sector jobs also set a cyclical high, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and National Association of Home Builders analysis.

The number of open construction sector jobs increased to 298,000 in August. The prior post-recession high count of open, unfilled construction jobs was 275,000 in July. For August 2017, the count was 215,000.

The open position rate (job openings as a percentage of total employment plus current job openings) increased to 3.9% in August. The rate was 3% last August. On a smoothed, twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector grew slightly to 3.2%, a post-recession high.

SOURCE: NAHB Eye on Housing

The construction sector hiring rate, as measured on a twelve-month moving average basis, declined slightly to 5%. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs fell to 2.3%. The trend for layoffs has been decreasing as the labor market tightens. NAHB expects construction sector net hiring to continue in 2018 as the single-family construction market modestly expands.

Elsewhere, this Calculated Risk graph shows the NSA quarterly intent for four start categories since 1975: single family built for sale, owner built (includes contractor built for owner), starts built for rent, and condos built for sale:

SOURCE: Calculated Risk

Single family starts built for sale were up about 8% in 2Q 2018 compared to 2Q 2017. Owner built starts were unchanged year-over-year. And condos built for sale not far above the record low, but up 11% compared to 2Q 2017.

The ‘units built for rent’ (blue) had increased significantly following the great recession, but are now moving mostly sideways.