Residential construction employment increased by 37,000 in March and has now surpassed the level in February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic led to massive job losses in construction and other sectors of the economy. About 518,000 residential construction jobs were created in the past 11 months, offsetting all the 471,800 residential construction jobs lost in March and April of 2020, and February 2021.
Residential construction employment now stands at 3.0 million in March, broken down as 873,000 builders and 2.2 million residential specialty trade contractors. The six-month moving average of job gains for residential construction was 17,633 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers added 87,900 jobs on a net basis.
Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 1.05 million positions. By comparison, while non-residential construction added 73,100 jobs last month, only 64% of non-residential construction jobs lost in March and April last year have been recovered.
Aggregate construction industry (both residential and non-residential) employment totaled 7.5 million in March. The economy lost 22.7 million jobs in March, April and December of 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past 11 months, 14.3 million jobs have been recovered, however, total nonfarm employment in March is still 6% lower than its February 2020 level a year ago.
In March, the unemployment rate for construction workers declined to 6.6% on a seasonally adjusted basis. After reaching 14.1% in April 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate for construction workers has been trending lower for the past 11 months.
NAHB economist Jing Fu provides more analysis in this Eye on Housing blog post.