Job gains slow in December
Washington DC—According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), jobs fell for the second straight month in December as the omicron variant began to spread. Construction employment (both residential and non-residential) was 7.6 million, with 22,000 construction jobs in December. After seven consecutive monthly increases, housing construction lost 4,100 jobs in December, while non-residential construction jobs increased by 27,000.
The NAHB said residential construction jobs now surpass pre-pandemic levels in February 2020, while 74% of the non-residential construction jobs lost in March and April 2020 have now recovered. Housing employment now stands at 3.1 million in December, broken down to 886,000 builders and 2.2 million specialist housing contractors.
The six-month moving average of housing job growth was 4,783/month. Over the past 12 months, home builders and renovators have added 74,700 net jobs. Since its trough after the Great Recession, housing has gained 1,080,300 positions, according to the NAHB.
Total non-farm employment rose 199,000 in December, following a gain of 249,000 in November, as reported in the Employment Situation Summary. It is the smallest monthly gain since January 2021, according to the NAHB.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 3.9% in December, the lowest rate since the pandemic. It was 10.8 percentage points lower than the recent high of 14.7% in April 2020 and 0.4 percentage points higher than the rate in February 2020. The drop in the unemployment rate in December reflected a decline in the number of unemployed (483,000) and an increase in the number of employed persons (651,000).
The employment rate – the proportion of the population looking for or already in employment – was unchanged in December at 61.9%. According to the NAHB, this is the highest level since March 2020.
In December, the unemployment rate for construction workers fell by 1 percentage point to 4.7% seasonally. It is the lowest rate since February 2020, according to the NAHB. The unemployment rate for construction workers is falling, after reaching 14.1% in April 2020, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on housing demand.