WASHINGTON, April 3—Estimated February not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 46 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.
As the February 2019 national NSA construction unemployment rate fell 1.6 percent from a year ago to 6.2 percent, the construction industry employed 222,000 more workers nationally compared to February 2018, according to BLS numbers.
“The strength of the February construction employment numbers continued to reflect the strength of construction throughout much of the country,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Unemployment rates in February were lower compared to a year ago in 46 states, unchanged in one—Hawaii—and higher in three—Idaho, Kansas and Louisiana. At the same time, the country and 30 of the states posted their lowest February 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 fell 0.2 percent from January to February. In years past, a monthly decline has only occurred about a third of the time since the report first began in 2000 (six out of the previous 19 years). Among the states, 28 posted lower estimated construction unemployment rates this year from January, two had no change (Missouri and Oregon) and 20 were higher.
The Top Five States
The states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:
1. Florida, 3.4 percent
2. Utah, 3.6 percent
3. Colorado, 3.7 percent
4. South Dakota, 4 percent
5. Arizona and Oregon (tie), 4.1 percent
All of these states except for Colorado were also in the top five in January. Florida had the lowest construction unemployment rate in February, up from tied for third with Oregon in January. It was the state’s second lowest February rate on record behind the 3 percent posted in 2006.
Utah had the second lowest rate in February, the same ranking as in January. It was the state’s lowest February rate since 2015, when the rate was 2.3 percent.
Colorado had the third lowest rate in February. This was up from tied with New Hampshire for 11th lowest rate in January. It was the state’s lowest February estimated construction unemployment rate on record.
South Dakota had the fourth lowest rate in February, down from lowest rate in January. Nevertheless, it was the state’s lowest February rate on record.
Arizona and Oregon tied for the fifth lowest rate in February. For Arizona, that was the same as in January (tied with Maryland and Nevada) based on revised data (originally reported as sixth lowest). For Oregon, this was down from tied with Florida for third lowest in January. For both states, it was their lowest February rate on record.
Maryland, with a 4.5 percent construction unemployment rate in February, fell to ninth lowest from fifth lowest rate in January. However, it was still the state’s lowest February construction unemployment rate on record.
Nevada, which tied with Arizona and Maryland for the fifth lowest rate in January based on revised data (originally reported as eighth lowest), dropped to 19th lowest in February with a 5.8 percent rate. It was the state’s lowest February rate since 2007, when it was 5 percent.
The Bottom Five States
The states with the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:
46. Minnesota, Rhode Island and West Virginia (tied), 10.5 percent
47. Illinois, 11.3 percent
48. Missouri, 11.4 percent
49. Montana, 11.6 percent
50. Alaska, 11.7 percent
Four of these states—Alaska, Illinois, Montana, and Rhode Island—were also in the bottom five in January. For the sixth month in a row, Alaska had the highest estimated construction unemployment rate. Still, this was the state’s lowest February rate on record. The state also had the second largest year-over-year and monthly decrease in its rate in the nation after West Virginia and Iowa, respectively.
Montana had the second highest rate in February for the second month in a row.
Missouri had the third highest rate in February compared to sixth highest in January.
Illinois had the fourth highest rate in February, the same as in January when it was tied with Rhode Island. This was the state’s lowest February construction unemployment rate on record.
Minnesota, Rhode Island and West Virginia tied for the fifth highest rate in February. For Minnesota and West Virginia, that compared to tied for seventh highest in January. For Rhode Island, it was the fourth highest rate in January (tied with Illinois). For all three states, this was their lowest February estimated construction unemployment rate on record.
Iowa, which had the third highest rate in January, improved to 14th highest in February with an 8.2 percent rate, tied with New Mexico. For Iowa, this was the state’s lowest February construction unemployment rate on record. For New Mexico, this was the state’s lowest February rate since it hit 5.5 percent in 2008.