U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs

Housing starts are up, but construction jobs are down, which raises the question of whether a potential economic recovery from the Great Recession will be a jobless one, Stephen Jacob Smith reports in the latest issue of ARCHITECT. Smith notes:

"When the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly employment report in early December, many were surprised to see that the construction sector reportedly lost 20,000 jobs in November. If the housing sector is finally showing signs of recovery, with housing starts up 3.6 percent in October over the previous month according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, how did the country lose so many construction jobs?

Economists have suggested a number of different explanations, ranging from jitters about the fiscal cliff to plain undercounting on the part of the BLS. "It is really odd when you consider that housing starts for the year are up more than 40 percent," says Robert Dietz, an economist at the National Association of Home Builders."

One area of focus? Multifamily housing, which is showing gains (especially in high-performance offerings, given the number of projects coming in to ECO-STRUCTURE), but typically requires less labor to build per housing unit than single-family homes. But even accounting for that, the numbers should be better. What gives? Click here to read the full article and comment below on what you think is driving--or holding back--job development in construction.