The October Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that employment growth was positive for the month in all 4 multifamily-related job categories we track. In addition, the prior month’s employment levels for all 4 job categories were revised upward.
Employment rises overall
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that total seasonally-adjusted non-farm employment increased by 336,000 jobs in September to 156,419,000 jobs, based on their survey of business establishments. This compares to revised employment gains of 227,000 jobs in August and 236,000 jobs in July. August job gains were revised higher in the latest report by 40,000 jobs while July gains were revised higher by 79,000 jobs. The latest revision to the July jobs figure more than reverses a downward revision of 30,000 jobs in last month’s report.
The BLS household survey reported that the US unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.8 percent. The household survey found employment growth of 86,000 jobs to a level of 1,570,000 non-farm jobs. The number of unemployed persons rose by 5,000 to 6,360,000.
The household survey also found that the number of people in the civilian labor force rose by 90,000 in September while the adult civilian population rose by 215,000. The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.8 percent. It had been at 63.4 percent before the pandemic. Recovering that 0.6 percent decline in the labor force participation rate would bring 1.6 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 August.
The first chart shows the history employment growth in these four jobs categories since 2015.
Residential construction employment increases
Employment in residential building construction in September, usually with general contractors, was reported to be up by 6,700 jobs. This was in addition to an upward revision of the prior month’s employment level by 1,800 jobs. The employment level for July was also revised higher by 400 jobs. Employment in this category is now 933,100 jobs, up 0.9 percent year-over-year and 11.5 percent higher than its level in February 2020.
Employment in residential building trades, i.e. plumbers, electricians, etc., in September was reported to be up by 5,900 jobs from August’s level. In addition, August’s employment level was revised upward by 6,300 jobs. Employment in this category is now 2,363,500 jobs, up 2.2 percent year-over-year and 11.0 percent above its level in February 2020.
Total July employment in these two categories of residential construction jobs combined is up 0.4 percent from the revised level of the month before and up 1.7 percent year-over-year. It is up 0.6 percent from the preliminary level for August contained in last month’s report. Residential construction employment is 11.1 percent above its level in February 2020.
Apartment operations jobs on the rise
Employment for residential property managers in August was reported to be up by 1,700 jobs from its revised (+300 jobs) level for July to 512,600 jobs. Employment for residential property managers is up 2.6 percent year-over-year and is up from its February 2020 level by 6.6 percent.
Employment for lessors of residential buildings in August was reported to rise by 1,800 jobs from its revised (+400 jobs) level for July to 372,300 jobs. Employment in this category is up 2.8 percent year-over-year and is now 1.2 percent above its pre-pandemic level.
Total employment in these two categories of apartment operations jobs combined was reported to be up 0.4 percent from the revised level for last month. It is now 4.2 percent above its level in February 2020.
Growth below 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 levels in all four categories of jobs that we follow continue to track below their pre-pandemic trends. However, employment for lessors of residential buildings has somewhat closed its gap with the trend line.
Residential construction employment is now 2.3 percent below trend. Residential trades employment is now 2.8 percent below trend. Residential property managers employment is 3.2 percent below trend and lessors of residential buildings employment is now 3.4 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.