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Saturday Morning Thinking Outloud #5 – Jobs Growth

For all of 2014-2015-2016

  • Total Construction jobs increased from 5,950,000 to 6,700,000, +12.6%
  • Total Construction spending increased from $960bil to $1,170bil, +22%

BUT, much of that spending increase is inflation. We need to compare to constant dollars which = Volume. Inflation was particularly high in residential work, over 15% for the 3 years, which means $1.00bil in spending 3 years ago would be worth more than $1.15bil today. Converting everything to constant Oct 2016 dollars, after inflation we get:

  • Total Construction volume increased from $1,070bil to $1,170bil, +9.4%

So, for the 3 years, jobs increased by 12.6% while real work volume increased by 9.4%.

A more thorough analysis, which takes hours worked into consideration, shows from the Jan 2011 bottom of the recession in construction to current, both jobs and volume have increased equally by 28%. But jobs growth is often out-of-balance with real volume growth. In the beginning of the recession years of 2008-2011 firms let go of people much faster than work volume declined. 2009 showed a big gain in productivity. By 2010-2011 firms hadn’t let go enough to match the loss in spending. Then from 2012-2014 workload grew faster than firms filled jobs. Since 2011 we are sort of on an even keel.

For the last 3 years, jobs increased more than real construction volume. I pointed this out in my last detailed jobs report.  The 6 months from Oct 2015 – March 2016 encompassed the fastest new construction jobs growth period in a decade. It’s no surprise to me that jobs growth has been slow since March this year. Frankly, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it remains slow for awhile. When we look at jobs growth vs. volume growth, there is reason to believe that slow jobs growth is not entirely due to labor shortages. Part of the blame is due to recent over-hiring.

For more on jobs read this


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