Residential construction jobs now 7.6% above pre-COVID level

The U.S. economy added 390,000 jobs in May.


After a month of very little change in April, the construction sector had a solid month of job growth in May, according to the U.S. Jobs Report released on Friday.

Construction gained 36,000 jobs in May, with residential building adding 5,000 jobs and residential specialty trade contractors gain 11,700 jobs. Employment in the construction sector is 40,000 higher than its level in February 2020, while employment in residential building is 7.6% higher than its pre-pandemic level.

“Although housing inventory is beginning to increase, demand continues to exceed supply even as mortgage rates have spiked,” Mike Frantantoni, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s SVP, said in a statement. “The continued strength in the job market will provide ongoing support to housing demand.”

Overall, the U.S. economy gained 390,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in May. Thanks to this increase, the U.S. economy has regained 6% of the jobs it lost in the pandemic.

For the third month in a row, the unemployment rate remained at 3.6%, with the number of unemployed persons at 6.0 million, just slightly above pre-COVID level of 5.7 million.

“If gains continue at the May pace, we could return to the pre-COVID employment peak by August,” Odeta Kushi, First American’s deputy chief economist, said in a statement.

The real estate and rental and leasing sectors gained 14,000 jobs in May, with real estate gaining 7,400 jobs, and rental and leasing services gaining 6,500 jobs.

Mortgage banking companies, on the other hand, employed 290,400 full time employees as of April 30, 2022, up 500 from the end of March. However, they’re down 2.4% from June 2021, when 297,600 workers were employed at mortgage banking firms. Mortgage brokerage firms added 500 jobs in April from the prior month, according to the BLS statistics.

The lion’s share of the job growth in May came from gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (up 84,000 jobs), the professional and business services sector (up 75,000 jobs), and in the transportation and warehousing sector (up 47,000 jobs). On the other hand, employment in retail trade declined, losing 61,000 jobs, however it is still 159,000 jobs above its pre-pandemic level.

Experts believe May’s job report will likely support future rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

“In our view this report should cement the Federal Reserve’s commitment to aggressive policy tightening over the coming months,” Doug Duncan, the chief economist at Fannie Mae, said in a statement.