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Construction Unemployment Rises Nearly 15% in April

Unemployment has reached record highs since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the construction industry is feeling it. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the unemployment rate continued to rise in April with an increase of nearly 15%—a total of 20.5 million jobs lost in 30 days.

NAHB reported residential construction employment and remodeling is near November 2015 readings, dropping by 415,000 positions for an employment total of about 2.5 million.

"Unlike the Great Recession, housing enters this downturn underbuilt, with a housing deficit of approximately one million residences," NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz wrote in the report. "This potential demand means that housing is a sector that can provide economic momentum in a recovery. However, there are limiting factors such as the availability of builder financing. Indeed, banks reported net tightening for commercial real estate lending conditions, as well as declines for demand for such loans."

However, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel, he noted, as purchase applications for mortgages slightly improved. Dietz added that "any recovery will feature renewed residential construction hiring and economic activity."

—Andrew Michaels, editorial associate

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Thursday, 09 July 2020