Construction Unemployment Rates Improve in 22 States

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 30—April not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rates were down in 22 states and unchanged in two (Arkansas and California) on a year-over-year basis, according to analysis released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). However, the national NSA construction unemployment rate of 6.3 percent was up 0.3 percent from April 2016, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Since 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 April construction unemployment rate on record and the second lowest rate since April 2000,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Further evidence of the construction industry’s economic health can be found in the 160,000 more workers employed in the industry compared to April 2016.”

Since the beginning of the data series in January 2000, the monthly movement in the national NSA construction unemployment rate from March to April has always been a decline. This year was no exception with a 2.1 percent rate plunge in the NSA rate from March. All but two states (Georgia and Kansas) posted a decline in their April estimated rate from March.

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

The Top Five States

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

1. North Dakota
2. Nebraska
3. South Dakota
4. Idaho, Indiana and New Hampshire (tied)

Two states—Nebraska and North Dakota—were also among the top five in March. North Dakota, with a 1.3 percent estimated NSA construction unemployment rate, had the lowest rate among the states. That was up from fifth lowest in March based on revised data (previously reported as eighth lowest rate). It was also the state’s lowest April NSA rate since the beginning of the estimates in 2000 and the largest year-over-year drop among the states, down 3.2 percent.

Nebraska, with a 1.6 percent construction unemployment rate, had the second lowest rate in April. This was an improvement from the fourth lowest rate in March based on revised data (previously reported as tying with Colorado for the lowest rate). It also matched 2008 for the state’s lowest estimated April rate on record.

South Dakota, with a 1.9 percent construction unemployment rate, had the third lowest April rate, up from sixth lowest rate in March. The state’s 2.8 percent year-over-year decline was the second best among the states. It also matched 2015 for the state’s lowest April rate on record.

Idaho, Indiana and New Hampshire, each with a 2.6 percent rate, tied for the fourth lowest rate in April. All were notable improvements from their March rankings—Idaho up from 12th lowest, Indiana up from 14th lowest and New Hampshire from tied with Florida for 21st lowest. For all three states this was their respective lowest estimated April rate on record. Indiana had the fifth largest year-over-year decrease among the states, down 2.1 percent. New Hampshire had the fifth largest drop in its rate from March among the states, down 5.4 percent.

Colorado, Utah and Kansas, which ranked first, second and third in March based on revised data, fell to seventh (2.7 percent), 13th (4.3 percent, tied with Michigan) and 22nd (5.8 percent, tied with Maryland), respectively.

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

46. Pennsylvania
47. Louisiana
48. Illinois
49. New Mexico
50. Alaska

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

Alaska had the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in April, 16.8 percent. Since these are NSA construction unemployment rates, it is often the case from fall through spring that Alaska has among the highest rates in the nation. However, the state posted the largest year-over-year increase (up 5.4 percent) in April. It was also the eighth month in a row that the state had the highest rate in the country.

New Mexico had the second highest construction unemployment rate in April, 11.6 percent, the same ranking as in March.

Illinois had the third highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in April, 8.8 percent. Nonetheless, it was the state’s second lowest April rate (after 2015’s 8.6 percent) since April 2006, when it was 6.7 percent. In March, the state had the sixth highest rate along with Alabama.

Louisiana had the fourth highest rate in April, 8.7 percent. In March, it had the 11th highest rate, tied with Arkansas and Ohio.

Pennsylvania had the fifth highest rate in April, 8.5 percent, an improvement over its ranking as fourth highest rate in March.

Connecticut and Rhode Island, which in March ranked third and fifth highest, respectively, moved to the middle of the rankings in April, 25th and 24th lowest, respectively. For Connecticut, its 6 percent rate was its lowest April rate since the 4.1 percent in 2001.

Rhode Island’s 5.9 percent rate was its second lowest April rate since 2006, when it was 5.8 percent. Also, Rhode Island had the third largest year-over-year decrease in its rate (down 2.6 percent) along with Nevada.

Further, Connecticut had the third largest monthly decline (down 6.2 percent) and Rhode Island had the fourth largest monthly decline (down 6 percent).

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