WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 31—September not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rates improved in 32 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 5.2 percent was 0.3 percent lower than a year ago, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

This was the lowest September construction unemployment rate since 2000, when it was 4.6 percent. BLS data also reported that the industry employed 208,000 more people than in September 2015.
 
“September 2016 marks the sixth year of uninterrupted monthly year-over-year rate decreases in the national 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. “These industry-specific unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted, so it is important to note states’ performance on a year-ago basis. The year-over-year improvement in the national unemployment rate as well as in the rates of 32 states demonstrates the steady improvement in the construction job market over the past year.”

Like August, the historical pattern for change in the national NSA construction unemployment rate from the month before is ambiguous. Starting in 2000, when the BLS data for this series begins, through 2015, the change in the September rate from August has fallen eight times, risen seven times and been unchanged once. This year’s September increase of 0.1 percent adds an eighth year that the rate has risen from August.

Eighteen states did post declines in their estimated construction unemployment rates from August. Five states had unchanged rates.

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 estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest rate to highest they were:

1.    Colorado
2.    South Dakota
3.    Idaho and North Dakota (tie)
5.    Massachusetts

Four states—Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts and North Dakota—were also among the top five in August.

Colorado, with a 2.4 percent NSA construction unemployment rate, had the lowest rate among the states in September. This was up from tied for second lowest rate with Wyoming in August based on revised data (previously reported as the third lowest rate). It was the state’s lowest September unemployment rate on record, matching the September 2000 rate.

South Dakota, with a 2.9 percent construction unemployment rate, moved up to the second lowest rate in September from tied with Iowa for seventh lowest rate in August. Along with two other states—Arizona and Massachusetts—South Dakota had the second largest year-over-year drop, down 1.3 percent. It also tied with two other states—Indiana and Montana—for the fifth largest monthly decline, down 0.4 percent.

Idaho and North Dakota tied for the third lowest rate in September with a 3 percent rate. For Idaho, that was up from fifth lowest in August based on revised data (previously reported as the seventh lowest rate). It was also Idaho’s lowest September estimated unemployment rate on record. For North Dakota it was a drop from the lowest rate in August.

Massachusetts had the fifth lowest rate in September, with a 3.3 percent rate, and the state’s lowest September construction unemployment rate since the beginning of the estimates in 2000. This was a slight demotion from fourth lowest in August. The state also had the second largest year-over-year drop in its rate, down 1.3 percent, along with Arizona and South Dakota.

Wyoming experienced the largest monthly and year-over-year jump in its NSA construction unemployment rate—up 2.7 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively—to 5.3 percent. This was the state’s highest September rate since 2010, when it was 6.1 percent. As a result, the state dropped from tied for second lowest rate in August to 27th lowest in September.

Meanwhile, Vermont fell from tied with Idaho for fifth lowest in August to tied with Michigan for 13th lowest in September with a 4.3 percent rate. Vermont also had the fourth largest monthly increase, up 1.1 percent from August.

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:

46.    Alabama
47.    Pennsylvania
48.    Rhode Island
49.    New Mexico
50.    Alaska

All of these states were also among the five states with the highest construction unemployment rates in August.

Alaska, with a 10.1 percent rate, had the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in September. In August, it had the third highest rate along with Alabama based on revised data (previously reported as the seventh highest rate). The state’s construction unemployment rate increased 2.5 percent from August, the second largest increase among the states.

Since these are NSA construction unemployment rates, it is not startling that Alaska has the highest rate in the country. The state’s NSA rate normally increases in September, with an average monthly rise of 3.1 percent. On a positive note, Alaska’s rate was down 0.2 percent from September 2015 and this year’s rate was the state’s lowest September rate since 2002, when it was 7.9 percent.

New Mexico had the second highest construction unemployment rate in September, 8.6 percent, an improvement from posting the highest rate in August. The state also had the second largest monthly drop in its rate—down 0.9 percent.

Rhode Island had the third highest rate in September, 8.5 percent. In August, the state had the second highest rate. This September’s rate was Rhode Island’s lowest September rate since 2007, when it was 6.6 percent.

Pennsylvania had the fourth highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in September, 8.1 percent, compared to the fifth highest rate in August based on revised data (previously reported as the fourth highest rate). The Keystone State had the second largest year-over-year increase among the states, up 1.5 percent.

Alabama had the fifth highest estimated construction unemployment rate in September, with a 7.6 percent rate. This was an improvement from third highest rate in August, tied with Alaska. It was also the state’s second lowest September construction unemployment rate (just above 2015’s 7.5 percent) since 2007’s 4.3 percent rate.

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