Construction unemployment rates improved in 46 states and throughout the nation in May on a year-over-year basis, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors. The May national not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rate of 5.2 percent was 1.5 percent lower than a year ago, while the industry employed 213,000 more people than in May 2015. 

“May is typically the month in which construction activity increases as the weather improves across the nation,” said economist Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Dating back to the beginning of the data series in January 2000, the NSA rate has improved from April to May in all but one year. This year’s decline of 0.8 percent continues that pattern and matches the monthly decrease in 2014 and 2015. Additionally, the decrease in the construction unemployment rate from May 2015 extends the string of uninterrupted monthly year-over-year rate decreases that began in October 2010.

“All of the top five states are cold weather states that benefit greatly from the normal improvement in the weather that occurs in May,” said Markstein. “With the exception of Minnesota, all of the top five states have small construction workforces. As a result, small changes in construction employment can translate into large swings in their construction unemployment rates from month to month.” 

Only three states—Pennsylvania, North Dakota and South Dakota—had their May estimated construction unemployment rate increase from a year ago, while Texas had no change in its rate from May 2015. The year-over-year increase for Pennsylvania and South Dakota was small, up 0.1 percent. All states had construction unemployment rates under 10 percent, an occurrence last observed in July 2015. 

View states ranked by their construction unemployment rate.

View states ranked by their year-over-year improvement in construction unemployment.

The Top Five States

The five states with the lowest construction unemployment rates in May in order from lowest rate to highest were:

1. Idaho

2. Nebraska

3. Minnesota

4. Wyoming

5. Vermont 

Only the top two states—Idaho and Nebraska—were also among the top five in April. Idaho, with a 1.9 percent estimated construction unemployment rate, had the lowest rate among the states in May. Nebraska fell to the second lowest rate, but its construction unemployment rate dropped to 2 percent. Minnesota’s rate dropped by 2.5 percent year-over-year to 2.1 percent, good for third lowest. Wyoming and Vermont both slipped into the top five with construction unemployment rates of 2.6 and 2.7 percent respectively. 

The Bottom Five States

The five states with the highest construction unemployment rates (from lowest to highest) were:

46. Illinois

47. Pennsylvania

48. Alabama

49. Rhode Island

50. New Mexico

Four of the five states (all except Alabama) with the highest estimated construction unemployment rates in May were the same as in April, although in a different order. New Mexico reported the highest rate at 8.9 percent, although it did see a 1.4 percent decline from April. Rhode Island saw the second highest monthly decline at 2.4 percent, but still had the second highest rate at 8.6 percent. Alabama tied for the largest increase from April and had the third highest rate at 8.4 percent. Pennsylvania was one of three states to see a year-over-year increase in its construction unemployment rate which stands at 8.3 percent, and Illinois had the fifth highest rate for the second month in a row at 7.7 percent.

Read more on ABC’s website.