Quikrete Industry Dashboard: employment news

Construction employment rose by 22,000 in September. Gas prices are up, too.
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The latest version of the Quikrete Industry Dashboard shows the national unemployment rate declining to 4.8% in September. In the prior month, the figure stood at 5.2%.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Employment Situation Report Friday. It included a 22,000 rise in Construction employment. However, there has been little net change so far this year in construction employment, which is 201,000 below the February 2020 (pre-pandemic) level.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun’s reacted to the jobs report:

“The latest job additions of 194,000 in September are light considering there are still 5 million fewer Americans working now versus before the pandemic. There is some comfort in the 22,000 new jobs in the construction industry, though more jobs went to non-residential sectors rather than for homebuilding. Another 16,000 more workers were hired at building material and garden supply stores, which has consistently been one of the strongest sectors since the onset of the pandemic and clearly implies a greater focus toward home by consumers.”

Yun added:

“One concern for interest rate-sensitive industries is inflation. The hourly wage rate rose 4.6%. This increase is higher than the usual 2% to 3% annual gains witnessed in the prior two decades before the pandemic but is needed to keep up with broader consumer price inflation (5.2%). Nonetheless, spiraling inflation of prices and wages could feed off each other, thereby forcing an increase in mortgage rates. The first-time homebuyer share has already sunk to a near two-year low of 29% and further affordability challenges loom ahead. Housing affordability looks to be available only in the outlying exurbs and smaller towns.”    

Elsewhere on the Dashboard, gas prices jumped to $3.24 per gallon of regular. That’s up 5 cents from a month ago, and up $1.06 from one year ago.

Next up: The Census Bureau will release its monthly retail sales report on Oct. 15.