Number of Unfilled Construction Jobs Remains High Despite Some Progress

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The latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data show construction job openings in October posted a slight decline from the prior month but remain well above year-ago levels. The estimated number of construction jobs open in October was 311,000, down from a September total of 327,000 and April’s post-Great Recession high of 434,000. But the October count is well above the 278,000 unfilled sector jobs in October 2018. NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz noted in an Eye on Housing blog post that the open positions rate (job openings as a percentage of total employment plus current job openings) dipped to 4% in October, after reaching a cycle high of 5.5% in April. On a smoothed, 12-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector held steady at 4.3%. Dietz said the overall trend for open construction jobs has been increasing since the end of the Great Recession, matching NAHB and other survey data showing access to skilled labor remains a top business challenge for home builders. The impact has been widespread across building professions such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters and others. However, some expected modest growth rates for housing construction are likely to place downward pressure on job openings in future data releases. Recent data also suggest that the count of open, unfilled jobs is nearing a cycle peak, but is nonetheless a sign of the need for additional worker recruitment into the industry, a key reason workforce development remains a key priority for NAHB and its affiliates. To find out more about our efforts to address the labor shortage through workforce development, visit

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