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Construction Hiring Slips, But Positions Are Open

Construction hiring stalled in March after an unusually strong February, and in spite of a growing number of available positions.

Hiring in the construction industry slowed in March, marking a sluggish end to the first quarter but improving over the previous year.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) shows a decline from 318,000 hires in February to 286,000 in March. The February number was upwardly revised, however, and the accelerated hiring was likely generated by the warmer weather early in the year.

March was the first month of less than 300,000 construction hires in over a year.

The most noteworthy fluctuation in the survey was the increase in open construction positions in March, up to 96,000, the highest level since September of last year. For the first quarter of 2012, per the JOLTS data, net hiring for the construction sector reached only 28,000 positions.

Job openings have ticked upward since the recession ended, which is cause for optimism, but the lack of movement in the hiring rate raises questions about the state of the labor market. It is possible that a skills mismatch exists between available jobs and available workers. The condition of the housing market, suffering under tight credit standards and the trials of buying or selling a home to relocate, could be adding to the woes of the job market as well.

Although the slow start falls below early expectations for 2012, the first quarter already indicates improvement over 2011, for which net hiring for the sector totaled 67,000 for the entire year. Last year was the first year of net job creation for construction since 2006.

The hiring rate across all sectors was 3.3 percent in March, marking the 14th consecutive month that job creation remained between 3.1 and 3.3 percent of total employment, according to the JOLTS numbers, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To view the full survey, click here.

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December 6, 2019, 12:35 pm PDT

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