The latest Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that employment in both apartment operations jobs and residential construction jobs was higher than in the prior month.
Overall jobs number rise
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment increased by 528,000 jobs in July, based on their survey of business establishments. The BLS household survey reported that the US unemployment rate dropped to 3.5 percent.
Compared to the previous month. the household survey also found that the number of employed persons rose by 179,000 while the number of unemployed persons fell by 242,000. The number of unemployed persons is 117,000 below the pre-pandemic level.
The household survey found the number of people in the civilian labor force fell by 63,000 during the month while the adult population rose by 177,000. This caused the labor force participation rate to fall from June’s level to 62.1 percent. It had been at 63.4 percent before the pandemic. Recovering that 1.2 percent decline in labor force participation would bring 3.4 million more people into the workforce.
Focus on the multifamily
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 June.
The first chart shows the long-term history of the levels of employment in these four jobs categories.
Construction employment report moves higher
Employment in residential building construction in July, usually with general contractors, was reported to be up by 2,900 jobs (0.3 percent) from the revised employment level for June at 901,700 jobs. In addition, June’s employment figure was revised upward by 200 jobs so that July’s preliminary employment figure is actually 3,100 jobs higher than the preliminary figure reported for June last month. Employment in this category is up 4.7 percent year-over-year and is now 7.5 percent higher than its level in February 2020.
Employment in residential building trades, i.e. plumbers, electricians, etc., in July was reported to be up 11,200 jobs (0.5 percent) from June’s revised figure at 2,267,200 jobs. In addition, June’s preliminary employment figure was revised upward by 500 jobs in this month’s report. Employment in this category is up 3.7 percent year-over-year and is now 6.2 percent above its level in February 2020.
Total employment in these two categories of residential construction jobs combined was up 0.5 percent in July from the revised level of the month before and was 6.5 percent above its level in February 2020.
Apartment operations jobs gain, sort of
Employment for residential property managers in June was reported to be up by 1,100 jobs (0.2 percent) from its revised level for May to 494,600 jobs. However, the May jobs figure was revised downward by 1,600 jobs, so the preliminary figure for June is actually down by 500 jobs from the preliminary figure for May reported last month. Employment for residential property managers is up 2.7 percent year-over-year and is up from its February 2020 level by 2.8 percent.
Employment for lessors of residential buildings was reported to fall in June by 100 jobs to a level of 363,100 jobs. However, the apparent decline was due to the prior month’s employment figure being revised upward by 200 jobs. Employment in this category is up 2.8 percent year-over-year and is now 1.5 percent below its pre-pandemic level.
Total employment in these two categories combined was reported to be up 0.1 percent for the month from the revised levels of the month before and is now 0.9 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.