US Jobs Picture Holds Steady

While several of the big-picture numbers hardly budged, total nonfarm employment rose, with substantial gains seen in professional and business services, health care, and transportation and warehousing.
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The latest Employment Situation report from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is studded with a certain type of phrase: “little changed,” “little or no change,” “essentially unchanged” and “little different.”

One would not necessarily expect much change to nationwide employment figures on a month-to-month basis, but the just-released June report nonetheless does convey the stability, the predictability of the U.S. jobs picture over the recent past.

READ ALSO: 2019 Employment Picture

Aspects of the nation’s employment picture to which those phrases above apply include the average unemployment rate (at 3.7 percent), the number of unemployed individuals (6 million), the number of long-term unemployed individuals, meaning those who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more (1.4 million) and the labor force participation rate (at 62.9 percent).

What have changed, however, are numbers that are highly relevant to the commercial real estate sector:

  • Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 224,000 jobs in June, a figure more in line with the average monthly gains last year (223,000 jobs) than those so far in 2019 (172,000 jobs).
  • Notable job gains were seen in sectors including professional and business services, health care, and transportation and warehousing.
  • Construction employment trended up again in June (21,000 new jobs).
  • After little movement for four months, manufacturing employment increased by 17,000 new jobs in June. This was about double the average monthly growth so far in 2019.

Focus on construction employment

Earlier this year, the Associated General Contractors of America released figures showing that average construction hourly wages and the average weekly hours worked in construction were both increasing, as construction unemployment fell.

With the number of unemployed construction workers having fallen to a 20-year low, the association found that 80 percent of respondents to a survey reported difficulty filling hourly craft positions and more than half having a hard time filling salaried positions.