Half of construction’s job openings vanish

Dive Brief:

  • The number of construction job openings in January plummeted by 240,000, a result dubbed “simply shocking,” by Associated Builders and Contractors’ Chief Economist Anirban Basu.
  • ABC’s monthly analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicated there were 248,000 unfilled construction jobs in January, a sharp, 50% drop from the month before and 148,000 jobs below the same time last year. 
  • Basu even questioned the accuracy of the numbers. “While this construction job openings number is likely to be revised or at least eventually viewed as aberrational as new data arrive, there are likely some construction segments that have substantially slowed their pace of hiring,” said Basu.

Dive Insight:

The total number of open jobs in the U.S. hit 10.8 million in January, Basu reported, indicating there were more job openings than unemployed Americans. But as those numbers remained lofty, construction’s plummeted — nearly half of all job openings vanished in a month.

“In a nation that is set to rebuild much of its infrastructure and is operating in the megaproject era, including the construction of manufacturing facilities for computer chips, inputs to growing alternative energy industries and electric vehicles, today’s numbers seemingly defy credulity,” said Basu. 

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Courtesy of Associated Builders and Contractors


But the head-scratching data isn’t without some possible explanations.

Specifically, Basu called attention to the BLS data not differentiating between residential and nonresidential numbers. So, “while many nonresidential contractors continue to report lengthy backlog and numerous open jobs, the single-family homebuilding segment has entered a period of significant retrenchment,” he said.

Finally, indications from the Federal Reserve point to further hiking of interest rates and for that elevation to stick around longer than previously thought, which could further dry the well of job openings.

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