Are you in the woes of filling a new position? You are not alone: The estimated number of job openings increased in December to 239,000 from 217,000 the prior month. This just underscores the trouble the industry is having finding skilled labor. However, experts say that we may be near a cycle peak, and that low interest rates, increased hiring rates, and renewed interest in homebuying will put a downward pressure on the number of unfilled positions.
Data from the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) indicate that construction job openings posted a monthly increase in December due to renewed hiring in the industry following the housing soft patch of 2018 and 2019.
The estimated number of job openings increased from the November total (217,000) to 239,000 in December, after reaching a post-Great Recession high of 434,000 in April. However, the December 2019 count of unfilled jobs represents a year-over-year decline relative to the 299,000 unfilled construction jobs in December 2018.
The open positions rate (job openings as a percentage of total employment plus current job openings) increased to 3.1% in December, after reaching a cycle high of 5.5% in April. On a smoothed, twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector declined to 4.2%, reflecting the hiring slowdown of the past year. The peak (smoothed) rate during the building boom prior to the recession was just below 2.7%. For the current cycle, the sector has been above that rate since October 2016. While hiring slowed through much of 2019, recent data for the start of 2020 show a significant acceleration in home building employment.