August not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rates improved in 48 states and the nation on a year-over-year basis, according to analysis released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The national NSA construction unemployment rate of 5.1 percent was 1 percent lower than a year ago, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), producing the lowest August construction unemployment rate on record. BLS data also showed that the industry employed 183,000 more people than in August 2015.
“August 2016 continues the unbroken monthly streak of year-over-year rate declines in the construction unemployment rate that began in October 2010,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “For the fourth month in a row, the estimated construction unemployment rates for all the states were below 10 percent. The last time that happened was from June to September 2002.”
There is no clear historical pattern to the change in the August national NSA construction unemployment rate from July. Starting in 2000, when the BLS data for this series begins, through 2015, the monthly change in the August rate has fallen eight times, risen seven times and been unchanged once. This year’s August increase of 0.6 percent adds an eighth year that the rate has risen from July to August.
Only three states recorded declines in their estimated construction unemployment rates from July— Hawaii, Nevada and Wyoming. One state’s rate, Mississippi, was unchanged. A number of states in the South were adversely affected by the heavy rains in August. Louisiana in particular was hard hit with the devastating floods that slammed the state in the middle of the month.
Even a number of states with rising construction employment experienced a rise in their NSA construction unemployment rate. This is likely due to unemployed construction workers in other states moving to these states in search of employment. Also, some unemployed construction workers who dropped out of the workforce may have started looking for work, further boosting a state’s construction unemployment rate.