Construction Unemployment Down in 49 States Between August 2017 and 2018

Colorado is the only state where the estimated August construction unemployment rate did not fall on a year-over-year basis

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Estimated August construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in every state except Colorado on a year-over-year basis, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The August 2018 not seasonally adjusted national construction unemployment rate fell 1.3% from a year ago to 3.4%. At the same time, the construction industry employed 287,000 more workers nationally compared to August 2017, according to BLS statistics.

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“Continued healthy construction activity across the nation is keeping pressure on the construction labor market, resulting in lower unemployment rates than a year ago,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “State construction unemployment rates fell on a year-over-year basis in every state but Colorado, whose rate of 2.7% was unchanged from a year ago. This was also the second month in a row the national construction NSA unemployment rate fell below the overall national NSA unemployment rate, which has only occurred five times since the national construction unemployment rate data was first recorded in 2000.”

The United States and 33 states posted their lowest August construction unemployment rates on record. It is also the second consecutive month where all 50 states had a construction unemployment rate under 10 percent.

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

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The national NSA construction unemployment rate from July to August was unchanged. Among the estimated state construction unemployment rates, 23 were down, 23 were up and four (Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Texas) were unchanged from July.

Meanwhile, private NSA construction employment rose in 33 states from July, was unchanged in Nebraska and Nevada and decreased in 15 states. Nationally, NSA private construction employment increased 20,000 from July.

The top five states

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

  • North Dakota, 1%
  • Vermont, 1.5%
  • Idaho, 1.7%
  • Wyoming, 1.9%
  • Utah, 2%

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

North Dakota had the lowest rate in August. This was up from the second lowest rate in July based on revised data (previously reported as tied with South Dakota for lowest).

It was the lowest August rate on record for North Dakota, Vermont and Virginia. Wyoming’s August rate was its lowest since August 2008, when it hit 1.2%.

South Dakota, which had the lowest construction unemployment rate in July, fell to 12th lowest with a 2.7% rate in August, tied with Colorado, Kansas and Virginia.

Oregon, which tied with New Hampshire for the fifth lowest rate in July based on revised data (previously reported as tied with Utah for the fourth lowest rate), slipped to seventh lowest with a 2.2% rate in August, tied with Georgia. Nevertheless, it was the state’s lowest August rate on record.

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The bottom five states

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

  • 45. Kentucky and West Virginia (tied), 4.9%
  • Louisiana and New Mexico (tied), 5.2%
  • Mississippi, 5.8%
  • Alaska, 6.5%

All the states except Louisiana and New Mexico were among the bottom five in July.

Alaska had the highest estimated construction unemployment rate in August, compared to the second highest in July. On the positive side, this was the state’s lowest August rate since 2002, when it was 6.1%. Further, the 2.6% year-over-year decline was the second largest among the states, behind Michigan’s 2.9% drop.

Mississippi had the second highest rate in August, compared to the highest in July. This was Mississippi’s lowest August construction unemployment rate on record. The state also had the largest monthly decrease in the country, down 1.4%.

It was Louisiana’s lowest August construction unemployment rate since 2007, when it was 4.4%, and New Mexico’s lowest since 2008, when it was 4.3%.

Kentucky and West Virginia experienced their lowest August rates on record.Rhode Island, which ranked fourth highest in July (tied with Kentucky), improved to eighth highest in August with a 4.7% construction unemployment rate, tied with Arkansas. This matched its lowest August rate, recorded in 2004.

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