The Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that employment was up for the month in all 4 multifamily-related job categories we track. However, the prior month’s employment levels for all 4 job categories were revised downward.
Employment rises more slowly
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that total seasonally-adjusted non-farm employment increased by 150,000 jobs in October to 156,923,000 jobs, based on their survey of business establishments. This compares to a revised employment gain of 297,000 jobs in September, 101,000 jobs lower than estimated last month.
The BLS household survey reported that the US unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage points to 3.9 percent. The household survey found that the number of employed persons fell by 348,000 from that reported last month to 161,222,000. The number of unemployed persons rose by 146,000 to 6,506,000.
The household survey also found that the number of people in the civilian labor force fell by 201,000 in October while the adult civilian population rose by 214,000. The labor force participation rate fell to 62.8 percent. It had been at 63.4 percent before the pandemic. Recovering that 0.7 percent decline in the labor force participation rate would bring 1.87 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 September.
The first chart shows the history of the levels of employment in these four jobs categories since 2015.
Residential construction employment increases
Employment in residential building construction in October, usually with general contractors, was reported to be up by 3,700 jobs. However, the prior month’s employment level was revised lower by 1,300 jobs. The employment level for August was also revised lower by 500 jobs. Employment in this category is now 935,500 jobs, up 0.7 percent year-over-year and 11.7 percent higher than its level in February 2020.
Employment in residential building trades, i.e. plumbers, electricians, etc., in October was reported to be up by 10,000 jobs from September’s level. However, September’s employment level was revised downward by 700 jobs. Employment in this category is now 2,372,800 jobs, up 2.1 percent year-over-year and 11.5 percent above its level in February 2020.
Total August 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 0.4 percent from the preliminary level for September contained in last month’s report. Residential construction employment is 11.5 percent above its level in February 2020.
Apartment operations jobs on the rise
Employment for residential property managers in September was reported to be up by 1,200 jobs from its revised (-500 jobs) level for August to 513,300 jobs. Employment for residential property managers is up 2.3 percent year-over-year and is up from its February 2020 level by 6.7 percent.
Employment for lessors of residential buildings in September was reported to rise by 600 jobs from its revised (-500 jobs) level for August to 372,400 jobs. Employment in this category is up 1.6 percent year-over-year and is now 1.3 percent above its pre-pandemic level.
Total employment in these two categories of apartment operations jobs combined was reported to be up 0.2 percent from the revised level for last month. It is now 4.3 percent above its level in February 2020.
Growth continues 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 track continue to track below their pre-pandemic trends. However, employment for lessors of residential buildings has somewhat closed its gap with the trend line while employment in the construction jobs categories is diverging more from the trend.
Residential building 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.