by Robert Dietz — Eye on Housing
Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data for November from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates improving hiring conditions for the overall economy. While total job openings for all non-farm sectors were essentially unchanged at 3.2 million, total hires increased to 4.1 million, which is tied with September of 2011 for the most number of hires since the Fall of 2008.
The job openings rate of 2.3% for November remains at levels last consistently experienced in 2008. Compared to last year, the larger number of open positions bodes well for future employment growth, provided employers can find workers with needed job skills and employees can relocate to areas with open jobs. However, relocation can sometimes be a challenge given ongoing weakness in the housing market.
Hiring in the construction sector (both residential and non-residential) slowed in November, which at 309,000 was tied with the second lowest month for the year. Consequently, the hiring rate fell to 5.6% in October.
Total construction sector hires in 2011 are still on pace to exceed total separations for the first time since 2006, with hires now exceeding quits, layoffs, and other separations by 31,000 positions.
This would be a significant change from recent years, during which the construction sector produced a significant net drag on job creation. However, the 2011 total of net hires in the construction sector will be small, particularly relative to what the industry can generate when housing starts growing at a more robust rate.