Home » Behind the Headlines » Construction Jobs Report 2-4-22

Construction Jobs Report 2-4-22

On Feb 4, BLS released the January 2022 jobs report. With that report BLS revised jobs for all months back to 2017.

There were minor revisions in 2018-2019. The largest revisions were all in the last 15 months, all down, 30k to 50k jobs per month.

From Dec 2019 to Dec 2020, Construction lost 172,000 jobs. From Dec 2020 to Dec 2021, construction gained 171,000. Dec Jobs count is now back to where it was at the end of 2019.

A better indicator that picks up all the peaks and valleys throughout the year is the annual average. Annual avg we lost 237k jobs in 2020 and gained back 155k in 2021. So the total annual average for 2021 is still 82,000 jobs lower than the average for 2019.

Often overlooked, but equally as important, is the hours worked. Avg jobs from 2019 to 2021 were down 1.1%, but total hours worked is down 1.8%. Avg jobs in 2021 vs 2020 increased 2.3%, but total hours worked increased 2.1%.

ALL of the 155,000 construction jobs gains in 2021 were residential. There were no jobs gained in nonresidential buildings or non-building infrastructure (Heavy/Civil).

Actually, I would have expected even more jobs added to residential and more lost from nonresidential and civil. In 2021, Residential construction volume (spending minus inflation) was up 8%. Nonresidential Bldgs volume down 12%. Civil volume down 9%.

However, there are cross-over jobs classified as nonresidential that actually work in residential. For example, if you are employed by a subcontractor, steel, concrete, masonry, windows, drywall, flooring, roofing, etc., whose primary workload is predominantly nonresidential buildings, your entire firm and all employees are classified as nonresidential, even if you work on a multifamily high-rise. The classification does not change for some employees and does not change for some of the workload. The firm is classified based on the predominant type of work the firm performs.

Don’t jump through hoops trying to compare residential construction jobs to residential volume of work. There will always be hidden jobs data that you can’t uncover. Although residential jobs did not increase to match volume growth and nonresidential jobs did not decrease even though volume was down 12%, there is some part of those inconsistencies that is explained by nonresidential firms building residential buildings.

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