Job openings inch up as layoffs, hirings soar


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Dive Brief:

  • The construction industry had 441,000 unfilled jobs in February, 16,000 more — or 3.8% higher — than in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics job openings survey released Tuesday.
  • The BLS report counts the number of positions for which employers were actively hiring. February’s number was 7.8% higher than at the same time last year.
  • The growth came as the industry counted 403,000 new hires, the second highest rate on record, according to Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. At the same time, BLS measured 375,000 total separations, counting layoffs, firings and quits.

Dive Insight:

Basu said the elevated rate of hirings and discharges indicate a wide gap between construction sectors.

“This suggests a schism in which certain construction segments powered by federal funding and incentives continue to generate tremendous demand for labor, while privately financed segments had somewhat slower growth,” Basu wrote. 

At the same time, only about one in 10 contractors expects to decrease staffing levels in the next six months, according to a survey of ABC members.

In February, nonresidential spending also dropped 1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.179 trillion, marking the second consecutive month of construction spending contraction. That was preceded by 19 months of growth. 

Basu indicated the contraction could be shrugged off and attributed to colder winter weather, but could also be a wake-up call about higher interest rates finally making an impact on the industry.



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