WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 29— August not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rates improved in 48 states and the nation on a year-over-year basis, according to analysis released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The national NSA construction unemployment rate of 5.1 percent was 1 percent lower than a year ago, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), producing the lowest August construction unemployment rate on record. BLS data also showed that the industry employed 183,000 more people than in August 2015.
 
“August 2016 continues the unbroken monthly streak of year-over-year rate declines in the construction unemployment rate that began in October 2010,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “For the fourth month in a row, the estimated construction unemployment rates for all the states were below 10 percent. The last time that happened was from June to September 2002.”

There is no clear historical pattern to the change in the August national NSA construction unemployment rate from July. Starting in 2000, when the BLS data for this series begins, through 2015, the monthly change in the August rate has fallen eight times, risen seven times and been unchanged once. This year’s August increase of 0.6 percent adds an eighth year that the rate has risen from July to August.

Only three states recorded declines in their estimated construction unemployment rates from July— Hawaii, Nevada and Wyoming. One state’s rate, Mississippi, was unchanged. A number of states in the South were adversely affected by the heavy rains in August. Louisiana in particular was hard hit with the devastating floods that slammed the state in the middle of the month.

Even a number of states with rising construction employment experienced a rise in their NSA construction unemployment rate. This is likely due to unemployed construction workers in other states moving to these states in search of employment. Also, some unemployed construction workers who dropped out of the workforce  may have started looking for work, further boosting a state’s construction unemployment rate.

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

View states unemployment rate for all industries.

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

1.    North Dakota
2.    Wyoming
3.    Colorado
4.    Massachusetts
5.    Utah and Vermont (tie)

Three states—Colorado, North Dakota and Vermont—were also among the top five in July.

North Dakota, with a 2.3 percent NSA construction unemployment rate, had the lowest rate among the states in August. This was up from third lowest rate in July. Posting the lowest rate was in spite of North Dakota being one of only two states with an increase in its rate from August 2015 (the other state was Oklahoma). It was also the state’s highest August unemployment rate since August 2010’s 3.2 percent as the effects of the drop in energy prices continue to adversely affect the construction industry in the state.

Wyoming, with a 2.6 percent construction unemployment rate, shot up to second lowest rate in August from 13th lowest rate in June and July. Wyoming was one of the three states with a drop in its construction unemployment rate from July (down 0.5 percent).

Colorado, with a 2.7 percent rate, had the third lowest rate in August, up from fourth lowest in July. Despite the continuing fallout from lower energy prices, this was the state’s lowest August construction unemployment rate since August 2000’s 2.2 percent rate.

Massachusetts had the fourth lowest rate in August, with a 2.9 percent rate. This was an improvement from tied for sixth lowest with New Hampshire in July. This was the state’s lowest August construction unemployment rate since the beginning of the estimates in 2000. The lowest previous August rate was 3.6 percent in 2000.

Utah and Vermont tied for the fifth lowest rate in August with a 3.2 percent NSA construction unemployment rate. For Utah this was an improvement from tied with Iowa and Nebraska for eighth lowest in July. For Vermont it was a drop from tied with Idaho for the lowest rate in July based on revised data (previously reported as the second lowest rate). Idaho, with a 3.3 percent rate, fell to seventh lowest in August (tied with Iowa).

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

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

45.    Connecticut and Illinois (tied)
47.    Pennsylvania
48.    Alabama
49.    Rhode Island
50.    New Mexico

All of these states, except for Pennsylvania, were also among the five states with the highest construction unemployment rates in July.

New Mexico, with a 9.8 percent rate, had the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate for the third month in a row. The state’s construction unemployment rate jumped 1.9 percent from July, the largest increase among the states. The state also had the highest overall NSA unemployment rate among the states, 6.9 percent, for the third month in a row, although that rate was down 0.2 percent from July.

As in July, Rhode Island had the second highest construction unemployment rate in August, 8.4 percent. This was the state’s lowest August rate since 2007’s 6.8 percent rate. Rhode Island had among the largest monthly increases in its rate—up 1.3 percent, the fifth largest increase among the states. At the same time, the state had the fourth largest year-over-year drop in its rate, down 1.9 percent.

Alabama repeated its July ranking with the third highest rate in August, 7.8 percent. This was its lowest August rate since 2008’s 7.7 percent rate.

Pennsylvania had the fourth highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in August, 7.5 percent, compared to the eighth highest rate in July. The Keystone State had the fourth largest monthly increase, up 1.4 percent. Nonetheless, August’s rate was the state’s lowest August reading since 2007’s 6.3 percent rate.

Connecticut and Illinois tied for the fifth highest estimated construction unemployment rate in August, with a 7.2 percent rate. Connecticut had the fourth highest rate in July based on revised data (previously reported as the sixth highest rate). Illinois had the fifth highest rate in July based on revised data (previously reported as tied with Louisiana for the fourth highest rate). August’s 7.2 percent rate was Connecticut’s lowest August construction unemployment rate since 2007’s 6.4 percent. For Illinois, it was the state’s lowest August rate since 2006’s 6.9 percent.

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