WASHINGTON, D.C. — 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.
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
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. Wyoming shot up to second lowest rate in August from 13th lowest rate in June and July with a construction unemployment rate of 2.6 percent. Colorado, with a 2.7 percent rate, had the third lowest rate in August and has reported a construction unemployment rate below five percent every month this year except for January. Massachusetts had the fourth lowest rate in August, with a 2.9 percent rate, the state’s lowest August construction unemployment rate since the beginning of the estimates in 2000. Utah and Vermont tied for the fifth lowest rate in August with a 3.2 percent NSA construction unemployment rate.
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)
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. As in July, Rhode Island had the second highest construction unemployment rate in August at 8.4 percent, the state’s lowest August rate since 2007. Alabama repeated its July ranking with the third highest rate in August, 7.8 percent, its lowest August rate since 2008’s 7.7 percent rate. Pennsylvania had the fourth highest construction unemployment rate in August at 7.5 percent. The Keystone State had the fourth largest monthly increase, up 1.4 percent, but produced its lowest August since 2007. Connecticut and Illinois tied for the fifth highest estimated construction unemployment rate in August, with a 7.2 percent rate, although the rates were the states’ lowest in August since 2007 and 2006, respectively.
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) launched its state-by-state economic analysis in 2015 and also includes Bernard M. Markstein's analysis of construction's contribution to each state's gross domestic product (GDP). Unique to ABC, Markstein's monthly state-level construction unemployment rate estimates and analysis of state-level construction job markets are produced in addition to ABC's existing national economic data and analysis.
Dr. Markstein is available for media interviews, please contact [email protected] to request an interivew.
Background on how the data was derived and Markstein's methodology is available on ABC's website.