Construction unemployment rates improve in 22 states
April not seasonally adjusted 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 by Associated Builders and Contractors.
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.
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. 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 always has 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.
The states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest rate to highest were: North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota; and Idaho, Indiana and New Hampshire, all of which were tied.
Two states — Nebraska and North Dakota — also were among the top five in March.
North Dakota (1.3 percent) had the lowest construction industry rate among the states. This was 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 (1.6 percent) had the second-lowest rate in April, matching 2008 for the state’s lowest estimated April rate on record.
South Dakota (1.9 percent) had the third-lowest April rate, matching 2015 for the state’s lowest April rate on record. Additionally, the state’s 2.8 percent year-over-year decline was the second best among the states.
Idaho, Indiana and New Hampshire tied for the fourth-lowest rate (2.6 percent) in April. For all three states, this was their respective lowest estimated April rate on record. All three also experienced notable improvements from their March rankings — Idaho up from 12th lowest, Indiana up from 14th lowest and New Hampshire up from tied with Florida for 21st lowest.
The states with the highest NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest rates were Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Illinois, New Mexico and Alaska.
Three of these states — Alaska, New Mexico and Pennsylvania — also were 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) for the eighth month in a row. 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.
New Mexico (11.6 percent) had the second-highest construction unemployment rate in April, the same ranking as in March.
Illinois (8.8 percent) had the third-highest rate in April. However, this was the state’s second-lowest April rate (after 8.6 percent in 2015) since April 2006 (6.7 percent).
Louisiana, which had the 11th-highest rate in March, had the fourth-highest rate in April (8.7 percent).
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 at 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 rate (5.9 percent) was its second-lowest April rate since 2006. The state also had the third-largest year-over-year improvement (down 2.6 percent).
Further, Connecticut had the third-largest monthly decline (down 6.2 percent) and Rhode Island had the fourth-largest monthly decline (down 6 percent).
Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., is president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors. He conducted the employment analysis for Associated Builders and Contractors.