WASHINGTON, June 27—In May, not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rates were down in 24 states on a year-over-year basis, according to analysis released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). At the same time, the construction industry employed 192,000 more workers than in May 2016, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the national NSA construction unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, up 0.1 percent from a year ago.

Because these industry-specific rates are not seasonally adjusted, national and state-level unemployment rates are best evaluated on a year-over-year basis.

“Despite the year-over-year increase, this was the third lowest national not seasonally adjusted May construction unemployment rate on record and the second lowest rate since May 2000,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Also, as in April, all the states except two, Alaska and New Mexico, had estimated construction unemployment rates below 10 percent.”

Since the beginning of the data series in January 2000, the monthly movement in the national NSA construction unemployment rate from April to May has been a decrease every year, except one—2009. This trend continued in 2017 with a one percent rate drop in the NSA rate from April. Among the states, 39 had declines in their May estimated rate from April, and two (Arkansas and Rhode Island) saw no change.

The Top Five States

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

1. Vermont
2. Iowa
3. Idaho
4. Colorado
5. Indiana and North Dakota (tied)

Four states—Colorado, Idaho, Indiana and Iowa—were also among the top five in April. Vermont, with a 1.5 percent estimated NSA construction unemployment rate, had the lowest rate among the states. That was a jump from tied with North Dakota for 13th lowest in April. It was also the state’s lowest May NSA rate since the beginning of the estimates in 2000 and the third largest monthly decrease among the states along with Illinois, down 2.8 percent.

Iowa, with a 2.2 percent construction unemployment rate, had the second lowest rate in May. This was up from the fifth lowest rate in April based on revised data (previously reported as the eighth lowest rate). It also was the state’s lowest estimated May rate since the 2 percent rate in 2000 and 2001.

Idaho, with a 2.3 percent construction unemployment rate, had the third lowest May rate, down from tied with Indiana and New Hampshire for lowest rate in April based on revised data (previously reported as tied with the same states for fourth lowest rate). It was the state’s lowest May rate since the 1.9 percent rate in May 2007.

Colorado, with a 2.4 percent rate, had the fourth lowest rate in May. That was the same ranking as in April based on revised data (previously reported as seventh lowest rate). This was the state’s second lowest estimated May rate on record, matching its 2001 rate and behind its 2000 rate of 1.3 percent.

Indiana and North Dakota tied for the fifth lowest rate—2.5 percent. For Indiana, that was down from tied with Idaho and New Hampshire for lowest rate in April based on revised data (previously reported as tied with the same states for fourth lowest rate). Nevertheless, it was Indiana’s lowest May rate on record and the third largest year-over-year decline among the states, down 2.1 percent.

North Dakota was up from tied with Vermont for the 13th lowest rate in April based on revised data (previously reported as the lowest rate). As with Indiana, it was the state’s lowest May rate on record.

New Hampshire, which had tied with Idaho and Indiana for lowest rate in April based on revised data (previously reported as tied with the same states for fourth lowest rate), dropped to 15th lowest in May, with a 3.8 percent estimated construction unemployment rate. Despite New Hampshire having the country’s largest monthly increase, up 1.2 percent, it was the state’s second lowest May rate since 2004 (3.1 percent), behind last year’s 3.4 percent.

The Bottom Five States

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

46. Missouri
47. Mississippi
48. Pennsylvania
49. Alaska
50. New Mexico

 Three of these states—Alaska, New Mexico and Pennsylvania—were also among the five states with the highest construction unemployment rates in April.

New Mexico had the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in May, 10.7 percent, down from the second highest ranking in April.

Alaska ended its eight-month streak as the state with the highest construction unemployment rate, moving up to the second highest rate in May, 10.5 percent. A high unemployment rate for the state at this time of year is to be expected since these are not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates. Interestingly, the state posted the largest year-over-year increase (up 3.5 percent) in May while also posting the largest monthly rate drop in the country (down 5.8 percent).

Pennsylvania had the third highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in May, 9.3 percent, compared to the fifth highest rate in April. It was the second largest year-over-year rate increase and the fourth largest monthly rate increase among the states.

Mississippi had the fourth highest rate in May, 8.4 percent. In April, it had the 10th highest rate, along with Kentucky. The state had the sixth largest year-over-year increase in the country, up 1.2 percent, and the fifth largest monthly increase, up 0.7 percent.

Missouri had the fifth highest rate in May, 7.9 percent, compared to eighth highest rate in April, along with Oklahoma. The state’s 1.5 percent year-over-year increase was the third largest in the country. Nonetheless, it was Missouri’s second lowest May construction unemployment rate since 2006 (6.1 percent), behind last year’s 6.4 percent rate.

Louisiana, which had the third highest rate in April based on revised data (previously reported as fourth highest rate), improved to 11th highest in May, along with Nevada and Ohio, with a 6.3 percent rate. It was Louisiana’s lowest May construction unemployment rate since 2006 (4.3 percent).

Illinois, which had the fourth highest rate in April based on revised data (previously reported as third highest rate), improved to 17th highest in May, tied with Alabama, with a 5.9 percent rate. It was the state’s lowest May construction unemployment rate since 2000 (5.7 percent).

To better understand the basis for calculating unemployment rates and what they measure, see the article Background on State Construction Unemployment Rates.


View states ranked by construction unemployment rate, year-over-year change in construction unemployment, monthly change in construction unemployment, a regional breakdown of state construction unemployment rates and unemployment rates for all industries.