April Construction Unemployment Rates Improve in 44 States from 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 1—Construction unemployment rates improved in 44 states and the nation in April on a year-over-year basis, according to analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors. The not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rate of 6 percent was a 1.5 percent drop from April 2015, continuing a streak of consecutive monthly year-over-year rate declines that began in October 2010. National NSA employment in construction was 262,000 higher than in April 2015.

“Historically, April has been the month in which construction ramps up coming out of winter 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. “Since the start of the national NSA construction unemployment rate series in January 2000, every year the rate has declined in April from March. This year’s fall of 2.7 percent was no exception.”

All but one state, Hawaii, posted a decrease in its estimated construction unemployment rate from March. All but two states—Alaska and New Mexico—had construction unemployment rates under 10 percent.

A number of states experienced significant declines in their estimated construction unemployment rates from March. These states tended to be states subject to cold and snowy winters (Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio and Rhode Island) that consequently see a significant rebound in construction activity and employment as temperatures warm. A number of these states have small construction workforces, which means that small changes in the number of construction workers employed can lead to large changes in their construction unemployment rate.

View states ranked by their construction unemployment ratetheir year-over-year improvement in construction employment and monthly improvement in construction employment. 

View each state's unemployment rate for all industries.

The Top Five States
The five states with the lowest construction unemployment rates in April in order from lowest rate to highest were:

1. Nebraska
2. Iowa
3. Colorado and Idaho (tie)
5. Virginia

Three states—Colorado, Nebraska and Virginia—were also among the top five in March. Nebraska, with a 2.5 percent estimated construction unemployment rate, had the lowest rate among the states in April. That was an improvement from having the second lowest rate in March.

Iowa jumped up in the ranking from 15th lowest construction unemployment rate in March to second lowest in April with a 2.7 percent rate. Its 4.9 percent drop in rate from March ranked as the eighth largest monthly decrease. Its year-over-year fall of 2.6 percent was the seventh largest decline among the states.

Colorado slipped from the lowest rate in March to third lowest rate in April, 3.4 percent. Hawaii, which had the third lowest rate in March, saw its construction unemployment rate rise to 5.6 percent, tying with Michigan for the 20th lowest rate. Hawaii was the only state to experience an increase in its rate from March.

Idaho, also with a 3.4 percent construction unemployment rate, tied with Colorado for the third lowest rate in April. That moved it up from seventh lowest rate in March.

Virginia, with a 3.8 percent rate, had the fifth lowest rate among the states, compared to fourth lowest rate in March based on revised data (previously reported as the fifth lowest rate).

View the regional breakdown of the construction unemployment rates of each state.

The Bottom Five States

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

46. Rhode Island
47. West Virginia
48. Illinois
49. New Mexico
50. Alaska

All of the five states with the highest estimated construction unemployment rates in April were the same as in March, although in a different order.

With a 12 percent rate in April, Alaska continued to have the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate among the states for the eighth month in a row. This was despite having the fourth largest monthly decline in its rate, down 5.8 percent from March. However, its rate was 1.3 percent higher than in April 2015, the third largest year-over-year rate increase.

New Mexico, with a 10.2 percent construction unemployment rate, had the second highest rate. In March, the state had the fifth highest rate based on revised data (previously reported as fourth highest rate).

Illinois continued as the state with the third highest construction unemployment rate (9.6 percent) in April. This was despite having the sixth largest decrease in its rate since March (down 5.6 percent). At the same time, the state had the largest year-over-year increase in its rate, up 1.9 percent.

West Virginia had the fourth highest estimated construction unemployment rate (9.5 percent). In March, the state had the second highest rate. The state had the third largest monthly decrease from March, down 6 percent.

Rhode Island had the fifth highest construction unemployment rate at 9.4 percent. The state had the fourth highest rate in March based on revised data (previously reported as sixth highest). The April rate was down 3.4 percent from April 2015, the third largest year-over-year decrease among the states. Its 5.5 drop from March was the seventh largest monthly decline among the states. 

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

State Construction Unemployment Rates