WASHINGTON, D.C. — September proved to be a good month for construction unemployment rates. The not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rates for the country and 48 states were down in September on a year-over-year basis. For the first three quarters of the year, construction added 121,000 seasonally adjusted (SA) jobs. At the same time, NSA jobs increased by 199,000 from September 2014 to September 2015.
Just click through the gallery for state-by-state analysis of the top five and bottom five states.
When looking at the monthly movements, it must be remembered that these are NSA unemployment rates. Hence they tend to have a seasonal pattern. This is the reason that year-over-year comparisons of the NSA rates are preferred. Thus, when drawing conclusions from monthly rate movements some care should be taken.
Over the last 15 years, roughly half the time the national NSA construction unemployment rate has decreased in September from the previous month. This September, the rate fell 0.6 percent—offsetting its August rise of the same amount. The estimated NSA construction unemployment rate fell for 34 states from August. The NSA construction unemployment rate for three states—Colorado, Vermont, and Wyoming—was unchanged from the previous month. September also marks the fourth month in a row that all state construction unemployment rates were under 10 percent.
At the state level, the improvement in the September construction unemployment rate from August appears to be a combination of expanding construction activity and general improvement in particular state economies. The former has resulted in some construction workers who lost their jobs in August finding new construction jobs by September. The latter has resulted in others landing jobs outside of construction. As always, the movement of job seekers between states can affect state unemployment rates.
The top three states—North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming—were also among the top five in August. The top four states are in the same geographic area, although in two separate census regions (Mountain and West North Central). These states all benefit from agriculture, energy and mineral extraction, and tourism. Also, some of those who lost their jobs in construction may have left the area in search of work.
Three of the five states with the highest estimated construction unemployment rates in September—Mississippi, Rhode Island and West Virginia—were among the five highest in August.