The construction industry had fewer unfilled jobs in June than in May, but the number of open positions remained high, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Wednesday.
Contractors had 143,000 unfilled jobs on their books in June, down from 163,000 in May and 168,000 in March, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.
Builders are doing their best to fill those vacancies, increasing hiring industrywide over the past year — although it has waned somewhat over the past few months in the residential sector, according to a National Association of Home Builders analysis of the data. The rate of employees who voluntarily quit construction jobs declined slightly in June, the BLS reported.
In an industry that lost an estimated 2.3 million jobs — more than 40% of its work force — during the housing bust and recession, construction firms are having a hard time luring qualified workers back to the field to fill vacant positions.
The construction unemployment rate, which has been steadily declining since reaching a peak of 22% in February 2010, dipped to 6.5% in June, leaving few construction workers available to take the 119,000 jobs the industry has created over the past year.
Builders have said the lack of available labor is a top business challenge. In a June survey by the NAHB, for example, 69% of builders reported a shortage of carpenters. The Associated General Contractors of America has reported that 84% of construction firms are struggling to fill jobs for carpenters, laborers and equipment operators.