Employment in construction remains at its highest level in six years, even though the industry did not add any jobs between May and June. But residential builders lost 6,100 positions last month, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures.
That fewer jobs would be created during a time when housing starts, construction spending, home sales and home prices are on the rise is what one business reporter last week called "a bit of a head-scratcher."
Some economists have said the industry is still catching up from a sluggish, snow-beaten winter, while others have suggested that a gradual slowdown in apartment building could be responsible for a temporary dip in hiring. And an industry-wide shortage of skilled craft workers has been exacerbated by an overall uptick in the economy, which has made more jobs available across industries — leaving contractors unable to fill the jobs they already have available.
Construction's positive numbers in starts, sales and spending, however, are likely to eventually translate into more hiring in homebuilding and across construction sectors.
The post-recession pace of homebuilding has not ramped up to historically "normal" levels, but economists have predicted that demand from first-time homebuyers, including hard-to-sell millennials, is poised to jumpstart building. In fact, the share of first-time homebuyers to enter the market grew from 30% in April to 32% in May.