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June Construction Unemployment Rates Improve in 47 States from 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 1—June not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rates improved in 47 states and the nation on a year-over-year basis according to analysis released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The national construction unemployment rate of 4.6 percent was 1.7 percent lower than a year ago according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Further, the industry boasted its lowest June rate since 2000 when it matched this June’s 4.6 percent rate. BLS data also showed that the industry employed 229,000 more people than in June 2015.
“The drop in the construction unemployment rate from June 2015 extends the uninterrupted monthly sequence of year-over-year rate decreases that started in October 2010,” said economist Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Starting in 2000, when the BLS data for this series begins, the June national NSA construction unemployment rate has fallen from May every year except 2010 when it was unchanged. This is not surprising given that this is not seasonally adjusted data and that construction activity normally continues to rise nationwide as the weather improves throughout the country. This year’s decrease of 0.6 percent from May continues this pattern.”

Four states—Connecticut, Hawaii, Mississippi and Wyoming—posted an increase in their estimated construction unemployment rate from May (Hawaii’s rate includes mining and logging in addition to construction). Three states—North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming—saw their construction unemployment rate increase from June a year ago. Both Wyoming’s monthly and year-over-year increases were small, up 0.1 percent. For the second month in a row, all states had construction unemployment rates under 10 percent. The last time that occurred in June was in 2005.

View states ranked by their construction unemployment rate, their 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 estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest rate to highest were:

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

Three states—Iowa, Nebraska and Vermont—were also among the top five in May. Vermont, with a 1.9 percent construction unemployment rate, had the lowest rate among the states in June. Vermont also had the lowest rate in May based on revised data (previously reported as the fifth lowest rate).

Colorado improved from seventh lowest rate in May (tied with Idaho and South Dakota) to second lowest rate in June with a 2.3 percent rate. This was Colorado’s lowest June estimated construction unemployment rate since 2001’s 2.2 percent rate.

Idaho and Iowa tied with the third lowest rate in June, each with a 2.4 percent rate. For Idaho this was up from seventh lowest rate in May, tied with Colorado and South Dakota, based on revised data (previously reported with the lowest rate). Iowa moved up from fifth lowest (tied with North Dakota) in May based on revised data (previously reported as 10th lowest rate). North Dakota fell to ninth lowest rate in June.
Nebraska slipped from fourth lowest rate in May based on revised data (previously reported as second lowest rate) to fifth lowest rate in June with a 2.5 percent construction unemployment rate. This was Nebraska’s lowest June construction unemployment rate since its 2 percent rate in 2008. June’s low rate occurred in spite of the rise in the foreign exchange value of the dollar acting as a drag on agriculture and manufacturing exports from Nebraska and the slowdown in the energy sector due to lower energy prices.

Minnesota, which had the third lowest rate in May, dropped to sixth lowest rate in June (2.7 percent), along with Massachusetts. For Massachusetts this was down from the second lowest rate in May based on revised data (previously reported as sixth lowest rate).

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

The Bottom Five States
The five states with the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates (from lowest to highest) were:

46.    Mississippi
47.    Connecticut
48.    Rhode Island
49.    New Mexico
50.    Alabama

Three of the five states with the highest construction unemployment rates in June were the same as in May—Alabama, New Mexico and Rhode Island. Alabama had the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate among the states (8 percent) compared to third highest in May. June’s rate was the state’s lowest June rate since 2008’s 7.9 percent rate.

New Mexico and West Virginia had the largest year-over-year drop in their respective construction unemployment rates, down 3.3 percent. Nonetheless, New Mexico had the second highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate (7.6 percent). In May, New Mexico had the fourth highest rate based on revised data (previously reported as the highest rate). West Virginia had the sixth highest rate in June (6.3 percent), along with Illinois, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. That compared to the seventh highest rate in May for West Virginia. In May, Illinois had the fifth highest rate, Louisiana the sixth highest rate, and Pennsylvania the second highest rate based on revised data (previously reported as the fourth highest rate).

Rhode Island has seen steady improvement in its construction unemployment rate, though some of the reduction has come from unemployed construction workers either retiring, obtaining jobs in other industries, or moving to another state. The June rate of 7.3 percent was the state’s lowest June rate since 2007’s 6.2 percent.

Rhode Island’s 1.7 percent decrease from May was the second largest drop after Pennsylvania’s 2 percent plunge. Its year-over-year decrease of 2.5 percent was the sixth largest among the states. In spite of this progress, its June rate was the third highest in the nation. In May, the state had the highest rate based on revised data (previously reported as second highest rate).

Connecticut had the fourth highest estimated construction unemployment rate (6.9 percent). Its May rate was the 11th highest rate along with Nevada. Mississippi, with a 6.8 percent rate, had the fifth highest rate among the states. That compares with 16th highest in May along with Arizona.

Although both Connecticut and Mississippi had year-over-year declines in their rates—down 0.8 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively—they were two of the four states whose rate increased from May (along with Hawaii and Wyoming)—Connecticut up 0.3 percent and Mississippi up 0.7 percent. Nevertheless, Connecticut’s rate was the state’s lowest June rate since 2007’s 6.6 percent rate and Mississippi’s rate was the state’s lowest June rate since the beginning of the series in 2000.

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

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