With big layoff rounds still looming large over real estate headlines and the latest financial filings still showing sustained losses by publicly traded brokerages, a broader look at industry payrolls suggests the situation may be calmer than it first appears.
The offices of real estate brokers, agents and property managers added 20,000 total jobs to payrolls from March to April, according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That exceeded the typical April run-up by 8,700 jobs, amounting to a seasonally adjusted monthly increase of 0.5 percent.
Part of the reasons this growth was so high is that payroll estimates — in real estate and elsewhere — were adjusted downward for the months of February and March.
Still, the job market was “stronger than expected,” according to Mike Fratantoni of the Mortgage Bankers Association.
“As was the case in recent months, job growth remains concentrated in just a few sectors, particularly health care and hospitality,” Fratantoni, the group’s chief economist, said Friday in a statement. “Although we have seen several public layoff announcements, the job growth in these few sectors continues to offset losses in technology and other industries, including the mortgage market.”
The pace of real estate payroll growth once again outstripped the national average even on a month where hiring was surprisingly strong across industries. Private non-farm employers in the U.S. added a seasonally adjusted 253,000 jobs in the month of April.
And in homebuilding — an industry that was hit particularly early and hard by last year’s mortgage rate spike — employment levels have yet to take a significant hit.
Homebuilders and contractors who work in residential construction employed 1.7 percent more workers in April than at the same time last year, a figure that trailed the 2.6 percent annual increase in payrolls nationwide.
But in April, residential construction employment appeared to ramp up faster than hiring across the rest of the economy, and even faster than normal seasonal construction hiring patterns for this time of year.
Builders and residential contractors added a combined 59,600 jobs from March to April — a full 14,200 more than is typical for that time of year. This doubled the national rate of seasonally adjusted monthly payroll growth.
One downside to all these glowing hiring numbers? It likely keeps pressure on Federal Reserve officials to keep rates higher for longer, Fratantoni said.
“A solid job market will provide support to the housing market,” Fratantoni said in the statement. “However, the inflationary pressures from this strong wage growth will likely prevent the Federal Reserve from cutting rates any time soon, even if they now are at the peak for this rate cycle.”