The latest Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that employment in both categories of residential construction jobs and in one of two categories of apartment operations jobs we track rose for the month.
Overall jobs number rise
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment increased by 390,000 jobs in May, based on their survey of business establishments. The BLS household survey reported that the US unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent.
The household survey found that the number of employed persons is now 440,000 below its pre-pandemic level. However, the civilian noninstitutional population of people over 16 years old of the country has increased by 4.05 million since February 2020, leaving the employment-population ratio 1.1 percent lower than its pre-pandemic level.
Compared to the previous month. the household survey also found that the number of unemployed persons rose by 9,000. The number of unemployed persons is still 233,000 above the pre-pandemic level.
The number of people in the civilian labor force rose by 330,000 during the month while the adult population rose by 120,000. The labor force participation rate rose from April’s level to 62.3 percent. It had been at 63.4 percent before the pandemic. Recovering that 1.1 percent decline in participation would bring 2.9 million more people into the workforce.
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 April.
The first chart shows the long-term history of the levels of employment in these four jobs categories.
Construction employment up
Employment in residential building construction in May, usually with general contractors, was reported to be up 5,000 jobs (0.6 percent) from the revised employment level for April at 902,900 jobs. In addition, April’s employment figure was revised upward by 1,300 jobs so that May’s preliminary employment figure is actually 6,300 jobs higher than the preliminary figure reported for April last month. Employment in this category is up 5.8 percent year-over-year and is now 7.6 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 May was reported to be up 11,700 jobs (0.5 percent) from April’s revised figure at 2,254,500 jobs. However, April’s preliminary employment figure was revised downward by 300 jobs in this month’s report. Employment in this category is up 3.6 percent year-over-year and is now 5.6 percent above its level in February 2020. However, it is still 11.7 percent below the peak level it reached in 2006.
Total employment in these two categories of residential construction jobs combined was up 0.5 percent in May from the revised level of the month before and was 5.6 percent above its level in February 2020.
Apartment operations jobs up on net
Employment for residential property managers in April was reported to be up by 2,000 jobs (0.4 percent) from its revised level for March at 492,900 jobs. However, the March jobs figure was revised downward by 300 jobs, so the preliminary figure for April is up by only 1,700 jobs from the preliminary figure for March reported last month. Employment for residential property managers is up 3.1 percent year-over-year and is up from its February 2020 level by 2.5 percent.
Employment for lessors of residential buildings was reported to fall in April by 3,700 jobs to a level of 359,700 jobs. In addition, the preliminary employment level reported for March was revised downward by 400 jobs in this month’s report. Employment in this category is up 0.6 percent year-over-year and is now 2.4 percent below its pre-pandemic level.
Total employment in these two categories combined was down 0.2 percent for the month and is now 0.3 percent above its level in February 2020.
A closer look
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 presentation makes recent changes in employment levels in these categories more visible.
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.