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The count of open, unfilled jobs for the overall economy increased in September from 10.3 million open positions to 10.71 million open positions. In the construction sector, the count of open construction jobs increased from 386,000 to 422,000, according to the NAHB. The count of open jobs in September is 74,000 higher on a year-over-year basis.

The hotter than expected labor market data pushed the 10-year Treasury rate back above 4%. Ideally, the count of open, unfilled positions slows to the 8 million range in the coming months as the Fed’s actions cool inflationary pressures for the U.S. economy. However, while higher interest rates are having an impact on the demand-side of the real economy, the ultimate solution for the labor shortage will not be found by slowing demand, but by recruiting, training and retaining skilled workers.

The construction job openings rate moved higher, increasing to 5.2% in September after 4.8% in August. The data series high rate of 5.5% was recorded in April.

The housing market remains underbuilt and requires additional labor, lots and lumber and building materials to add inventory. However, the market is slowing due to higher interest rates. Nonetheless, hiring in the construction sector remained solid at a 4.7% rate in September. The post-virus peak rate of hiring occurred in May 2020 (10.4%) as a post-COVID rebound took hold in home building and remodeling.

Looking forward, attracting skilled labor will remain a key objective for construction firms in the coming years. However, while a slowing housing market will take some pressure off tight labor markets, the long-term labor challenge will persist beyond an ongoing macro slowdown.

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