Workers wield more power as job openings increase

Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. construction industry had 366,000 job openings in May, up 19,000 or 5.5% from April, according to seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released July 6.
  • That meant about 4.4% of construction jobs went unfilled. However, BLS recorded 26,000 fewer job openings compared to May 2022. The report counts unfilled positions employers currently seek to staff. 
  • “Today’s JOLTS data confirm that labor shortages remain firmly in place,” said Anirban Basu, chief economist for Associated Builders and Contractors, in a release about the report. “This shortfall has shifted leverage to workers.”

Dive Insight:

In May, contractors laid off 1.5% of their employees — the lowest rate in 12 months and fourth-lowest on record, Basu said in the release. Meanwhile, 2.9% of construction workers quit in May, the highest since last August, according to Basu. 

That’s contributed to workers wielding more power in the job market, a trend which Basu predicts will persist for a few months. Surveys of ABC members indicate contractors intend to increase staffing levels through the rest of the year.  

“The combination of high interest rates and tight credit conditions will eventually drag down demand for construction services, but until that time the industry will continue to be defined by worker scarcity,” Basu said in the release.

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