Construction Employment Indicators All on the Rise, Says Marcum 2014 JOLT Survey Report
New York City, NY – The Construction Services Practice of Marcum LLP, a top national accounting and advisory firm, today released the results of its second annual analysis of construction industry employment trends, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) Survey. Marcum’s 2014 JOLT Survey Analysis found that all key construction employment indicators increased last year, painting a complex picture of the industry’s recovery.
Post-recession construction employment surpassed the 6 million plateau for the first time in 2014, although total construction employment remained more than one million jobs short of the pre-recession high. During December, 44,000 net new construction jobs were added, a 5.7 percent increase from the final month of 2013. The year-over-year increase is the largest construction employment gain since May 2006, which arguable represented the beginning of the end for the nation’s housing boom.
According to Marcum’s Chief Construction Economist, Anirban Basu, who authored the report, “While rising employment is consistent with rising demand for construction services, the increase also implies that observed skills shortages will become more severe, particularly in certain parts of the country and in certain occupational categories. While hiring levels are nowhere near the levels of the early 2000s, the progress is nonetheless encouraging.”
- A total of 393,000 new construction employees were hired in December 2014, on a seasonally adjusted basis. That represented the highest level of hiring since March 2008. The December hires rate, which measures hiring as a percentage of total industry employment, was 6.4 percent, the highest rate since February 2013.
- The 147,000 available construction jobs recorded in December 2014 represent the second highest level of job openings since May 2008 (behind only June 2014). The job openings rate stood at 2.3 percent in December, a level very close to the post-recession peak.
- The fact that hires and openings moved in equal proportions in 2014 suggests that more people may be entering the construction labor market, helping to create a better balance between quantity of labor supplied and quantity demanded.
- Total construction employment separations have been trending lower since 2012, but an uptick in the fourth quarter of 2014 is likely associated with many factors, including languishing federal investment in construction and lower oil prices. The 361,000 separations registered in December 2014 represent the most recorded during a single month since December 2010.
- Construction unemployment remains above 8 percent, demonstrating considerable slack in the overall construction worker market, despite the recent acceleration in hiring.
“In general, the JOLTS data are consistent with an increasingly robust construction industry recovery,” Marcum reports. “Falling oil prices are likely creating dislocations in certain segments, but will eventually stimulate higher demand for construction services in others. To date, construction skills shortages are apparent in only a select number of markets, and do not yet appear to be part of a broad national phenomenon.”
The Marcum JOLT Survey Analysis of construction industry hiring trends is an annual complement to the quarterly Marcum Commercial Construction Index.
Marcum LLP’s Construction Services Group provides strategic and timely accounting, audit, and consulting and taxation services to construction clients ranging from start-ups to multi-billion-dollar enterprises. The firm’s technical experts serve on many industry boards and committees and regularly contribute to construction conferences and publications.
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