Construction Unemployment Rates Improve in 36 States as Nation Posts Lowest November Rate on Record

The not seasonally adjusted (NSA) national construction unemployment rate was 5 percent in November, down 0.7 percent from a year ago and the lowest November rate on record, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The construction industry employed 191,000 more workers than in November 2016. 

Construction unemployment rates were down in 36 states on a year-over-year basis, unchanged in 13 and up in one state (Missouri). Here is a complete list of the latest state rankings.

“Construction employment continues to show strength throughout much of the country, reflecting a healthy construction industry,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Above-average temperatures and below-normal precipitation in much of country in November likely helped overall construction activity. Continued recovery and rebuilding efforts following 2017’s hurricanes, floods and wildfires has added to demand for workers, offsetting some of the normal seasonal downturn in construction employment.”

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 monthly movements.

From the beginning of the data series in 2000 through 2016, the monthly movement in the national NSA construction unemployment rate from October to November has increased 13 times, decreased twice and remained unchanged twice. The most recent rate went up 0.5 percent from October. Among the states, 38 had increases, nine had decreases and three were unchanged (Massachusetts, New York and Utah).

The Top Five States

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

1. Hawaii, 2.5 percent
2. Idaho and Utah (tie), 2.9 percent
4. Massachusetts, 3.1 percent
5. Colorado, 3.2 percent

The Bottom Five States

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

46. Connecticut, 7.7 percent
47. Illinois, 8 percent
48. New Mexico, 8.1 percent
49. Montana, 10.3 percent
50. Alaska, 16.3 percent

For a more detailed report, head to ABC's State-by-State Construction Economics page.