The Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that residential construction employment rose compared to its revised level of the month before. However, apartment operations employment fell slightly.
Employment growth still positive
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that total seasonally-adjusted non-farm employment increased by 209,000 jobs in June to 156,204,000, based on their survey of business establishments. This compares to revised employment gains of 306,000 jobs in May and 217,000 jobs in April. May job gains were revised lower in the latest report by 33,000 jobs while April gains were revised lower by 77,000 jobs.
The BLS household survey reported that the US unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent, down from 3.7 percent last month. The household survey found that the number of employed persons rose by 273,000 from that reported last month to 160,994,000. The number of unemployed persons fell by 140,000 to 5,597,000.
The household survey also found that the number of people in the civilian labor force rose by 133,000 in June while the adult civilian population rose by 183,000. The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.6 percent. It had been at 63.4 percent before the pandemic. Recovering that 0.8 percent decline in the labor force participation rate would bring 2.1 million more people into the workforce.
Tracking multifamily employment
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.
Residential construction employment reported to rise
Employment in residential building construction in June, usually with general contractors, was reported to be up 800 jobs. However, this was after a downward revision of the prior month’s employment level by 4,200 jobs. The employment level for May was also revised lower by 2,100 jobs. Employment in this category is now 929,200 jobs, up 0.9 percent year-over-year and 11.0 percent higher than its level in February 2020.
Employment in residential building trades, i.e. plumbers, electricians, etc., in June was reported to be up by 10,000 jobs from May. In addition, the prior month’s employment level was revised upward by 4,100 jobs. Employment in this category is now 2,342,600 jobs, up 1.9 percent year-over-year and 10.0 percent above its level in February 2020.
Total April employment in these two categories of residential construction jobs combined is up 0.3 percent from the revised level of the month before. Residential construction employment is 10.3 percent above its level in February 2020.
Apartment operations jobs lower
Employment for residential property managers in May was reported to be up by 400 jobs (0.1 percent) from its revised (+400 jobs) level for April to 509,400 jobs. Employment for residential property managers is up 2.5 percent year-over-year and is up from its February 2020 level by 5.9 percent.
Employment for lessors of residential buildings was reported to fall in May by 700 jobs from April’s revised (+200 jobs) level to 372,800 jobs. Employment in this category is up 3.5 percent year-over-year and is now 1.4 percent above its pre-pandemic level.
Total employment in these two categories of apartment operations jobs combined was reported to be down 0.3 percent from the revised level for last month. It is now 3.9 percent above its level in February 2020.
Comparing to trend
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. It also provides trend lines for the growth in each of the categories of employment based on the period from January 2015 through February 2020.
The chart shows that employment in the residential construction recovered to near its pre-pandemic trend by early 2022. However, employment in the two categories of apartment operations jobs that we track is running well below the previous trend. This may indicate that some of the labor-saving changes that were made during the pandemic have become permanent features of apartment operations. Employment may remain permanently lower than the level suggested by the earlier trend.
Residential building construction employment is now 1.4 percent below trend. Residential trades employment is now 2.6 percent below trend. Residential property managers employment is 2.9 percent below trend and lessors of residential buildings employment is 2.9 percent below trend.
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.