Real estate firms picked up their hiring pace in August even as the Delta variant’s spread began to make its presence felt in federal jobs numbers.

Companies employing real-estate brokers, sales agents and related roles added a seasonally adjusted 10,600 jobs in August, approximately double the number of new roles they added the previous month. 

Hiring by homebuilders slowed substantially, meanwhile, as the number of jobs in residential construction dropped from 897,400 to 894,200 in August. 

The declines in homebuilder payrolls were roughly in line with typical seasonal patterns. The Bureau of Labor Statistics marked it as a 100-job increase on a seasonally adjusted basis. These homebuilder hiring numbers also don’t include a significant increase in hiring of residential trade contractors. 

These numbers come from the Labor Department’s latest jobs report, which showed employers added 235,000 non-farm jobs to their payrolls from July to August, after accounting for seasonal factors.

The report appeared to disappoint investors, as stock indexes opened lower Friday on the news. The previous month, employers nationwide added 943,000 seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs, and appeared on pace for a more robust recovery from the coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout

But the spread of the coronavirus’s Delta variant threw a wrench into hopes of a fast-paced recovery, as new cases and hospitalizations continued to slam states in the South and creep back higher in the West and Midwest.

Nationwide, non-farm employers increased their payrolls by less than 0.2 percent from July to August, with the data gathered mostly in the early weeks of each month.

Real-estate firms hired at a healthier clip than the nation at large, with their employee counts growing by 0.6 percent over the same period. The previous month, real-estate employment rose by 0.3 percent.

In all, nearly 1,785,600 people were employed in this real-estate category in early August. The industry’s employment numbers were nearly 5 percent higher than this time last year.

While homebuilders backed off their hiring growth from recent months, a more expansive category of residential trade contractors added a host of new jobs. This category, which includes workers within and outside the construction space, grew a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent from July to August.

The numbers reflected a residential home market that has hired more robustly than the broader economy over the last year. The number of employees on non-farm payrolls in all industries were up 4 percent year over year, compared to 5 percent in real estate and 7 percent in residential homebuilding.

Email Daniel Houston

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