Construction unemployment rates drop in 30 states

Commercial Real Estate | 30 Oct |

Estimated September construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 30 states on a year-over-year basis, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors.

The September 2018 not seasonally adjusted national construction unemployment rate fell 0.6 percent from a year ago to 4.1 percent. At the same time, the construction industry employed 300,000 more workers nationally compared to September 2017, according to BLS statistics.

“Despite the devastation from Hurricane Florence, construction activity remained strong in much of the nation, keeping pressure on the construction labor market,” said Barnard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “The result was lower unemployment rates compared to a year ago in 30 states and higher rates in 16; rates in four states remained unchanged. Further, the country and 20 states posted their lowest September construction unemployment rates on record.”

Because these industry-specific rates are not seasonally adjusted, national and state-level unemployment rates are best evaluated on a year-over-year basis. The monthly movement of the rates still provides some information, although extra care must be used in drawing conclusions from these variations.

The national NSA construction unemployment rate from August to September increased 0.7 percent. Only three states saw lower estimated construction unemployment rates, and the other 47 were up from August. 

The Top Five States

The states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were: 

1. Utah, 2.2 percent

2. North Dakota, 2.3 percent

3. Georgia, 2.5 percent

4. Vermont, 2.8 percent

5.  North Carolina, 3 percent

Of these states, North Dakota, Vermont and Utah were in the top five in August.

Utah had the lowest construction unemployment rate in September. This was up from tied with Wyoming for the fourth lowest rate in August based on revised data. Meanwhile, North Dakota slipped from the lowest rate in August to second lowest in September.

Georgia had the third lowest rate in September. This compared to eighth lowest in August and was the state’s lowest September construction unemployment rate on record.

Vermont sank from tied with Idaho for the second lowest rate in August to fourth lowest in September. Nonetheless, it was state’s lowest September construction unemployment rate on record, matching its rate in September 2016 and 2017.

North Carolina, one of three states (along with New Mexico and Missouri) that saw rates fall from August, rose from 21st lowest (tied with California, Montana and New Hampshire) to fifth lowest in September. It was also the state’s lowest September rate on record.

Idaho, which tied with Vermont for second lowest construction unemployment rate in August based on revised data, dropped to 16th lowest with a 3.7 percent rate in September.

Wyoming, which tied with Utah for the fourth lowest rate in August, fell to 21st lowest with a 4 percent rate in September.

The Bottom Five States

The states with the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:

46.   Hawaii, 5.9 percent

47.   Maine, 6 percent

48.   West Virginia, 6.2 percent

49.   Mississippi, 7.5 percent

50.   Alaska, 10.3 percent

Alaska, Mississippi and West Virginia were also among the bottom five in August.

Alaska had the highest estimated construction unemployment rate in September for the second month in a row. Nevertheless, this was the state’s second lowest September rate since 2002, when it hit 7.9 percent.

Mississippi had the second highest rate in September, the same as in August.

West Virginia had the third highest rate in September, compared to fifth highest in August based on revised data.

Maine had the fourth highest rate in September, compared to the 14th highest rate in August, tied with Alabama and New Jersey.

Hawaii, which only reports mining and construction employment combined, had the fifth highest rate in September a sharp swing from 18th lowest in August, tied with Florida and Oklahoma.

New Mexico, which had the third highest construction unemployment rate in August, improved to the 22nd highest rate in September at 4.3 percent. The state had the second largest year-over-year drop, down 2.4 percent, behind Florida, which posted a 2.7 percent decrease. New Mexico had the largest monthly decline, down 1 percent. It was also the state’s lowest September rate on record.

Louisiana, which had the fourth highest rate in August based on revised data, had the 11th highest rate in September at 5.2 percent, tied with Illinois and New York. This was the state’s lowest September rate since it reached 4.6 percent in 2007.

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