Rising employment reported for apartment operations

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The October Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that employment in apartment operations jobs rose while employment in residential construction jobs was nearly unchanged.

Economy continues to produce jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment increased by 263,000 jobs in October, based on their survey of business establishments. In addition, the BLS revised the increase in employment in September upward by 52,000 to 315,000 jobs. The BLS household survey reported that the US unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent.

Compared to the previous month, the household survey found that the number of employed persons rose by 328,000 while the number of unemployed persons rose by 306,000.

The household survey also found that the number of people in the civilian labor force fell by 22,000 in October despite the adult population rising by 179,000. These changes caused the labor force participation rate to tick back down 0.1 percentage point to 62.2 percent. It had been at 63.4 percent before the pandemic. Recovering that 1.2 percent decline in the labor force participation rate would bring 3.2 million more people into the workforce.

Strong performance for 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 September.

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

construction employment growth

Construction employment flat

Employment in residential building construction in October, usually with general contractors, was reported to be up 2,400 jobs from the revised (-100 jobs) level of the month before.  Employment in this category is up 4.0 percent year-over-year and is now 7.7 percent higher than its level in February 2020.

Employment in residential building trades, i.e. plumbers, electricians, etc., in October was reported to be down 1,500 jobs (0.1 percent) from September’s revised (+800 jobs) figure at 2,273,700 jobs. Employment in this category is up 3.2 percent year-over-year and is now 6.5 percent above its level in February 2020.

Total employment in these two categories of residential construction jobs combined was nearly unchanged in October from the revised level of the month before but was up 2.2 percent from the preliminary level reported last month. Construction employment was 6.8 percent above its level in February 2020.

Apartment operations employment grows

Employment for residential property managers in September was reported to be up by 4,000 jobs (0.8 percent) from its revised (-1,200) level for August to 499,200 jobs. Without the revision, the preliminary figure for September is up by 2,800 jobs from the preliminary figure for August 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 3.8 percent.

Employment for lessors of residential buildings was reported to rise in September by 3,800 jobs to a level of 368,500 jobs. In addition, the prior month’s employment figure was revised upward by 200 jobs. Employment in this category is up 3.4 percent year-over-year and is now 0.1 percent below its pre-pandemic level.

Total employment in these two categories combined was reported to be up 0.9 percent for the month from the revised levels of the month before and is now 2.1 percent above its level in February 2020.

Zooming in

The final chart, below, presents the employment data in a 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.

relative multifamily 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.