WASHINGTON, May 29—In April, for the second month in a row, estimated not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 49 states on a year-over-year basis, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors. Mississippi was the only state with an increase, where construction unemployment rose from 9.2% in April 2018 to 10% in the most recent report.
As the April 2019 national NSA construction unemployment rate fell 1.8% from a year ago to 4.7%, the construction industry employed 256,000 more workers nationally compared to April 2018, according to BLS numbers.
“The April construction employment numbers reflect the continued impact of the construction industry on the economy throughout the country,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Reflecting this strength, unemployment rates in April were lower compared to a year ago in all states with the sole exception of Mississippi. This was only the second time in the history of these state estimated construction unemployment rates that rates fell in every state but one on a year-over-year basis. The previous time was in March of this year.”
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 variations.
The national NSA construction unemployment rate fell 0.5% from March to April. A decrease in the monthly rate is the normal pattern, having fallen every April since the report first began in 2000. Among the states, 33 posted lower estimated construction unemployment rates from March and 17 higher.
The Top Five States
The states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:
1. Montana, 1.7%
2. Iowa and Nebraska (tie), 2%
4. Idaho and Vermont (tie), 2.1%
None of these states were in the top five in March. Montana had the lowest construction unemployment rate in April, a dramatic improvement from fifth highest rate in March (tied with Mississippi) based on revised data (originally reported as eighth highest). This was the state’s second lowest April rate on record, behind its 1.3% rate in April 2007. Montana also had the largest monthly decline among the states, down 6.4% from March.
Iowa and Nebraska tied for the second lowest rate in April. Both states improved significantly from March: Iowa up from 37th lowest and Nebraska up from 24th lowest, tied with Georgia and Hawaii, in March. For both states, it was their second lowest April rate on record. For Iowa, it was behind the 1.8% rate in April 2015; for Nebraska, it was behind the 1.6% rate in April 2008.
Idaho and Vermont tied for the fourth lowest rate in April. For Idaho, this was up from eighth lowest in March, tied with Texas. For Vermont, it was up from 22nd lowest, tied with California. For Idaho, it was the state’s lowest April rate on record. For Vermont, it was the state’s second lowest April rate on record behind the 1.7% rate in April 2000.
March’s top five fared as follows in April (listed from lowest to highest construction unemployment rate for March):
Ø Utah, which had the lowest rate in March, fell to ninth lowest with a 3.1% rate.
Ø Nevada and South Dakota (tied for second lowest based on revised data, originally reported as second and third lowest, respectively) fell to 10th lowest with a 3.2% rate (Nevada) and sixth lowest, tied with North Dakota, with a 2.3% rate (South Dakota).
Ø Florida and Colorado (tied for fourth lowest based on revised data, originally reported as fourth and fifth lowest, respectively) fell to 19th lowest with a 3.9% rate (Florida) and 13th lowest, tied with Indiana and Maryland, with a 3.6% rate (Colorado).
The Bottom Five States
The states with the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:
46. New Mexico, 7.1%
47. Michigan, 7.2%
48. Kentucky, 8.5%
49. Mississippi, 10%
50. Alaska, 11.9%
Three of these states—Alaska, Kentucky and Mississippi—were also in the bottom five in March. Alaska had the highest estimated construction unemployment rate, the same ranking as in March. Alaska had the largest decline in its year-over-year rate, down 5.1%.
Mississippi had the second highest rate in April compared to fifth highest, tied with Montana, in March based on revised data (originally reported as sixth highest, tied with Michigan).
Kentucky had the third highest rate in April compared to second highest in March based on revised data (originally reported as third highest).
Michigan had the fourth highest rate in April compared to seventh highest in March.
New Mexico had the fifth highest rate in April compared to 12th highest in March. This was the state’s lowest April estimated construction unemployment rate since it hit 6.2% in April 2008.
The other states in March’s bottom five fared as follows in April (listed from highest to lowest construction unemployment rate for March):
Ø Missouri, which had the third highest rate in March based on revised data (originally reported as second highest), tied with Hawaii for 11th highest with a 6.1% construction unemployment rate.
Ø Illinois, which had the fourth highest rate in March based on revised data (originally reported as fifth highest), tied with Connecticut and Washington for the seventh highest rate at 6.5%. (Connecticut was originally reported as fourth highest in March but revised data moved it to ninth highest for that month.)
Ø As noted in the previous section, Montana, which tied with Mississippi for fifth highest in March based on revised data (originally reported as eighth highest), shot up to the lowest rate in April (1.7%).
To better understand the basis for calculating unemployment rates and what they measure, see the article Background on State Construction Unemployment Rates.