The latest Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that jobs categories of interest to builders and operators of multifamily housing had a mixed performance in June.
Total employment growth up for the month
The BLS reported that the US unemployment rate rose marginally to 5.9 percent in June, with total non-farm employment increasing by 850,000 jobs. Of the increase, 188,000 were jobs with governments, with all of the net gain at the state and local level. Government accounts for about 15 percent of employment in the country but represented 22 percent of employment growth in June.
The labor force participation rate remained at 61.6 percent in June, 1.7 percentage points lower than its level before the pandemic. The number of people employed on non-farm payrolls is still 6.7 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, some of the data is reported with a month delay, so the latest figures for the latter two categories are for the month of May.
The first chart shows the long-term history of the levels of employment in these four jobs categories.
The construction jobs rise
Employment in residential building construction in June, usually with general contractors, was reported to be up 2,500 (0.3 percent) from the revised employment level for May at 872,900 jobs. However, the majority of this increase comes from May’s figure being revised downward by 1,800 jobs. The preliminary reported employment level for June is actually only 700 jobs (0.1 percent) higher than the preliminary figure reported last month. 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 June was reported higher by 12,700 jobs (0.6 percent) from May’s revised figure to a level of 2,159,200 jobs. The gain would have been higher except that May’s preliminary reported employment level was adjusted higher by 2,300 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 0.5 percent in June from the revised level of the month before and was 1.7 percent above its level in February 2020.
Apartment operations jobs report mixed
Employment for residential property managers in May was up 3,100 jobs (0.6 percent) from its level for April to 491,100 jobs. The April jobs figure was not revised. Employment was up from its February 2020 level by 1,900 jobs (1.9 percent).
Employment for lessors of residential buildings fell by 2,700 jobs (0.8 percent) in May to a level of 356,100 jobs. Employment in this category is now down 3.5 percent from its pre-pandemic level.
Total employment in these two categories combined is now 0.4 percent below its level in February 2020.
The final chart, below, presents the employment 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.
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.