In February, the number of unfilled jobs in the construction industry reached a post-recession high of 193,000. This is bad news, especially for residential construction. It means that if the U.S. workforce does not grow, this number, which is already a post-recession high, will only continue to grow, making it even harder for the construction industry to grow.
Fortunately, as Eye on Housing reports, the work force did grow slightly, as the unemployment rate proves. While a move from 4.9 percent to 5 percent might seem like a bad thing, the reason it increased by one-tenth is because the size of the labor force grew and was larger than the rise in the number of people employed, meaning there was a larger amount of job seekers. More people looking for work means more possible candidates to start filling some of the empty construction jobs. Which is a good thing, because the pace of hiring in residential construction accelerated recently.
March estimates show home builders and remodelers added 13,400 workers for the month and 166,000 over the last year. The total industry employment is now 2.598 million workers. With construction of both multifamily and single-family units expected to continue to increase, the industry is going to need to increase its pace of hiring, as well.
The residential construction industry’s growth is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise uninspired economy. Multifamily construction spending reached an annual pace of $59.7 billion in February (up 24.2 percent on a year-over-year basis and single-family spending reached an annual rate of $235 billion (up 10.6 percent from February 2015).