Jobs market growth resumes in March

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jobs growth

The latest Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that employment growth resumed in jobs categories of interest to builders and operators of multifamily housing in March.

Total employment rises

The BLS reported that the US unemployment rate dropped to 6.0 percent in March, with total non-farm employment increasing by 916,000 jobs. The labor force participation rate is now at 61.5 percent, down 1.8 percent from February 2020. The number of people employed on non-farm payrolls is still 8.4 million lower than it was before the pandemic.

The BLS reported more detailed employment information on four job categories of interest to the multifamily industry. These are employment as residential construction workers, as specialty trades within residential construction, as residential property managers and as lessors of residential buildings. As usual, more detailed data is reported with a month delay, so the latest figures for the latter two categories are for the month of February.

The first chart shows the long-term history of the levels of employment in these four jobs categories.

employment growth

Construction employment resumes its rise

Employment in residential building construction in March, usually with general contractors, was up 1.2 percent from the revised employment level for February to 872,700 jobs. Employment in this category is now 3.9 percent higher than its level in February 2020, before the effects of the pandemic were felt.

Employment in residential building trades, i.e. plumbers, electricians, etc., in March was up 1.3 percent from February’s revised figure to a level of 2,157,600 jobs. The employment level in this category is now 0.8 percent above its level in February 2020.

Total employment in these two categories of residential construction jobs combined was up 1.2 percent in March from the month before.

Jobs also up in apartment operations

Employment for residential property managers in February was up 0.3 percent from its level in January at 485,000 jobs. Employment was also up from its year-ago level by 0.7 percent.

The recovery of employment for lessors of residential buildings continues to lag. The BLS reported that employment growth in this category was 0.1 percent in February, but this is only because the employment level for the previous month was adjusted downward. The preliminary reading for February employment for lessors of residential buildings came in at 358,000 jobs. Employment in this category is now down 3.0 percent from its pre-pandemic level.

Total employment in these two categories combined is still 0.9 percent below its level in February 2020.

Zooming in

The final chart, below, presents the employment growth data in a slightly different format. It normalizes the employment levels in all four jobs categories to a reading of 100 for January 2015. This shows more clearly the relative magnitudes of the job losses during the shutdowns and strengths of the subsequent recoveries.

relative employment growth

The numbers given in the Employment Situation report are seasonally adjusted and are subject to revision. It is common for small adjustments to be made in subsequent reports, particularly to the data for the most recent month. The current Employment Situation report can be found here.