Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 69,000 (0.1%)
in May, seasonally adjusted, and by 1,782,000 (1.4%) over the past 12 months,
of Labor Statistics
reported June 1. The unemployment rate was 7.9%,
not seasonally adjusted (8.2%, seasonally adjusted), compared with 8.7% in May
Construction employment in May
dropped for the fourth straight month, by 28,000 (0.1%) - the largest monthly
decline in two years - to 5,516,000, seasonally adjusted. The decrease left
employment at the lowest seasonally adjusted level since August and only 18,000
(0.3%) higher than in May 2011. The unemployment rate for former construction
workers was 14.2%, not seasonally adjusted, down from 16.3% in May 2011 and
20.1% in May 2010 but still the highest of any industry and more than 6
percentage points above the all-industry rate. (BLS does not seasonally adjust
unemployment rates by industry.)
Over the past two years,
construction employment was virtually unchanged but the number of unemployed
hardhats fell by 605,000, suggesting workers are quitting construction, either
to take jobs elsewhere, return to school, retire or otherwise leave the
Rise in April construction spending
Construction spending in April totaled $821 billion at
a seasonally adjusted annual rate, up 0.3% from the upwardly revised March
total and up 6.8% from April 2011, the Census
reported June 1. Private nonresidential spending dipped 0.2%
in April but jumped 17% year-over-year. Private residential spending was up
2.8% for the month and 7.5% over 12 months.
Public construction spending fell
for the fifth straight month, by 1.4% for the month and by 3.2% compared with
April 2011. The largest private nonresidential segments (listed in descending
current order) all had double-digit year-over-year percentage gains: power,
including oil and gas (down 1% for the month but up 26% from a year earlier);
commercial - retail, warehouse and farm (up 1.1% and 11%, respectively);
manufacturing (-4.6% and 27%); private health care (2.6% and 11%); and private
office (1.6% and 18%).
Of the three private residential
segments, multifamily construction soared 4.1% for the month and 31% over 12
months; single-family construction jumped 1.8% and 13%; and improvements rose
3.7% for the month but fell 0.2% from a year ago. Of the two largest public
categories, highway spending rose 0.4% and 3.4%, while educational spending
dropped 0.9% and 2.4%.
Metro-area construction employment
Construction employment declined in 157 out of 337
metropolitan areas (including divisions of larger metros) between April 2011
and April 2012, increased in 120 and stayed level in 60, according to an AGC
analysis released May 29 of BLS data. (BLS does not seasonally adjust metro
data. The agency combines mining and logging with construction in most metros to
avoid disclosing information about industries with few employers.) Anchorage,
Alaska (-28%, -2,400 construction jobs) lost the highest percentage, followed
by Springfield, Mass.-Conn. (-21%, -1,900 combined jobs); Lewiston, Idaho-Wash.
(-20%, -200 construction jobs); and Montgomery, Ala. (-20%, -1,300 combined
The largest job losses were in the
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. division (-6,500 construction jobs, -6%);
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (-6,200 construction jobs, -12%); St.
Louis, Mo.-Ill. (-6,000 combined jobs, -9%); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta,
Ga. (-5,400 construction jobs, -6%); and New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La.
(-4,600 construction jobs, -14%).
Fargo, N.D.-Minn. added the highest percentage of
new construction jobs (27%, 1,600 combined jobs), followed by
Bakersfield-Delano, Calif. (24%, 3,300 construction jobs) and Grand Forks,
N.D.-Minn. (23%, 500 combined jobs). Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind. added the most
jobs (6,100 construction jobs, 16%), followed by Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro,
Ore.-Wash. (4,800 construction jobs, 11%); Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.
(4,400 construction jobs, 7%); and Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz. (4,400 construction
jobs, 5%). Click here
to view April metro employment numbers.
Occupancy rates improve in 1Q 2012
Occupancy rates improved in the first quarter of 2012,
while rents were mixed among five property types tracked across more than 50
metro areas by Dividend
, the real-estate analysis firm reported May 31. Most
property types remained in a “recovery” phase, with negative-to-below-inflation
rental growth and less than long-term average occupancy.
However, apartments, full-service
hotels and first-tier regional malls approached the “expansion” phase, in which
“rents rise rapidly toward new construction levels,” a level already attained
by health facilities. Office and apartment rents rose, as did hotel rates per
available room, or RevPAR. Retail rents fell and industrial rents held steady.
Close on the heels of a May 16
directive from the Office of Management and Budget that federal agencies should
reduce their real estate usage, the Internal Revenue Service May 22 “announced
a sweeping office space and rent reduction initiative that over the next two
years will close 43 smaller offices and reduce space in many larger
facilities….Coupled with space reductions last year, the initiative will slash
total IRS office space by more than one million square feet.” The federal
initiative will hold down demand for both federal office construction and
private space for lease.