WASHINGTON, DC — The construction industry had 413,000 job openings in December, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. JOLTS defines a job opening as any unfilled position for which an employer is actively recruiting. Industry job openings increased by 82,000 for the month and are up by 54,000 from December 2021.
“The number of open construction jobs surged in at the end of 2022,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The 5% of industrywide positions that were unfilled in December is the third highest level on record and higher than at any point since 2000, when the data series began, until October 2021. With more than 55% of contractors planning to increase their staffing levels over the next six months, according to ABC’s Construction Confidence Index, labor shortages will remain a stiff headwind for the industry.
“While parts of the economy, like consumer spending, are beginning to show signs of weakness, demand for labor remains significantly elevated,” said Basu. “Economywide job openings increased for the first time since September and remain about 57% above pre-pandemic levels. The implication here is that contractors, who have been facing labor shortages for several years, must now compete with other industries for workers.”
Visit abc.org/economics for the Construction Backlog Indicator and Construction Confidence Index, plus analysis of spending, employment, job openings and the Producer Price Index.
Construction Job Openings Surge by 82,000 in December
A recent U.S. Labor Department report showed that the number of construction job openings surged by 82,000 in December 2020 — the second-highest monthly increase in two years.
This increase in construction job openings comes at a time of economic recovery and is a welcome sign of growing job opportunities in the industry. It is evidence of an ongoing workforce shift and rising employment levels in the construction sector.
The report showed that the construction industry added more job openings than the manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, transportation and warehousing and retail trade industries, although the overall job openings figure was 2.3 million lower than the pre-pandemic job openings level of 7.7 million in February 2020. The construction sector had seen its job openings decline since then, taking a big hit in May when it reported the lowest level of job openings since November 2017.
Construction job openings surged by 24.3% between November and December, compared to just 2.3% for job openings in the leisure and hospitality sector, 16.7 percent for job openings in the transportation and warehousing sector and 28.4 percent for job openings in the education and health services sector.
The construction job openings increase was spread out over the nation, with some of the biggest growth in the New York City area, where job openings rose by 16,400 and the North Carolina region, where job openings rose by 10,100.
With the construction industry continuing to gain momentum and new job openings being added to the recovery mix, it appears that the industry is in for a strong second half of 2021. With the Biden administration proposing a massive $2 trillion infrastructure plan to help stimulate the economy, the construction job openings should continue to increase in the coming months.
For job seekers, this increase in construction job openings may present an opportunity to enter a stable and rewarding industry with room for advancement. Although the unemployment rate remains high, the job market is showing signs of improvement and construction jobs could lead the way to better employment prospects nationwide.