Washington, July 31—In June, estimated not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 40 states and increased in 10 on a year-over-year basis, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors. For the second month in a row, all 50 states posted construction unemployment rates of less than 10%.
The construction industry employed 200,000 more workers nationally compared to June 2018, dropping the June 2019 national NSA construction unemployment rate 0.7%, from 4.7% to 4%, according to BLS numbers.
“While severe weather, particularly in the Midwest and parts of the East, disrupted construction activity to some extent, the June construction employment numbers remained strong,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Construction employment opportunities continue to grow for job seekers, with skilled workers particularly in high demand. June seasonally adjusted average hourly earnings in construction increased by 3.2% on a year-over-year basis. At $30.73, average hourly earnings for construction are 10% higher than average hourly earnings for all private-sector employees.”
Because these industry-specific rates are not seasonally adjusted, national and state-level unemployment rates are best evaluated on a year-over-year basis. The monthly movement of rates still provides some information, although extra care must be used when drawing conclusions from these variations.
The national NSA construction unemployment rate rose 0.8% from May to June. This was only the second time that the June rate increased from May since the data series began in 2000—the first time was June of last year. (In June 2010 it was unchanged.) Only three states (Alaska, Kansas and South Carolina) posted lower estimated construction unemployment rates from May; two (New Jersey and New York) were unchanged; the remaining 45 increased.
The Top Five States
The states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:
- Vermont, 1%
- South Dakota, 1.1%
- North Dakota, 1.5%
- Maine, 1.6%
- Idaho, 2%
All of these states except for Idaho were in the top five in May. Vermont had the lowest construction unemployment rate in June, an improvement from tied with Maine for second lowest rate in May based on revised data (originally reported as the lowest rate). This was the state’s lowest June rate on record.
South Dakota had the second lowest rate in June, down from lowest in May based on revised data (originally reported as second lowest). This was the state’s lowest June rate (matching its June 2017 rate) since the 2007 rate of 1%.
North Dakota had the third lowest rate in June, compared to fourth lowest in May based on revised data (originally reported as 15th lowest).
Maine had the fourth lowest rate in June, down from tied with Vermont for the second lowest rate in May based on revised data (originally reported as sixth lowest). This was the state’s lowest June rate on record.
Idaho had the fifth lowest rate in June, up from ninth lowest in May.
Iowa, which was tied with Minnesota for the fifth lowest rate in May based on revised data (originally reported as third lowest), fell to 10th lowest in June with a 2.5% rate. Nevertheless, it was Iowa’s lowest June rate since the 2.2% rate in June 2000, making it the second lowest rate on record.
Minnesota fell to 17th lowest in June with a 3.2% rate, tied with New Jersey. In May, Minnesota was tied with Iowa for fifth lowest based on revised data (originally reported as eighth lowest). For New Jersey, this was its lowest June rate on record. The state also had the largest year-over-year decrease in its rate, down 2.7%.
Two states, Montana and Wyoming, that were originally reported as tied for fourth lowest construction unemployment rate in May fell out of that designation due to data revisions. Montana tied with Texas for the 15th lowest rate in June with a 3.1% rate. Revised data show that Montana was tied with Wisconsin for seventh lowest rate in May. This was Montana’s lowest June rate since the 2.3% rate in June 2007.
Wyoming tied with New Hampshire for eighth lowest in June, with a 2.4% rate. Revised data show that Wyoming tied with Utah for 10th lowest rate in May. This was the state’s lowest June rate, matching its June 2014 rate, since the 1.6% rate in June 2013.
Montana and Wyoming had the second and third largest decline in its year-over-year rate, down 2.6% and 2.1%, respectively. (Wyoming’s 2.1% year-over-year drop was shared with Alabama.)
The Bottom Five States
The states with the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:
- Connecticut and Louisiana (tie), 6.2%
- Missouri, 6.4%
- New Mexico, 7.3%
- Kentucky, 8.4%
- Mississippi, 8.6%
Four of these states were also in the bottom five in May: Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and New Mexico. Mississippi had the highest estimated construction unemployment rate for the second month in a row. This was Mississippi’s second lowest June rate after the 8.2% rate in 2017 since the 8.1% rate in June 2001.
Kentucky had the second highest rate in June compared to third highest in May based on revised data (originally reported as fourth highest).
New Mexico had the third highest rate in June compared to fifth highest in May. This was the state’s second lowest June rate after the 7.2% rate in 2017 since the 5% rate in June 2008.
Missouri had the fourth highest rate in June, the same as in May based on revised data (originally reported as third highest).
Connecticut and Louisiana tied for the fifth highest rate in June. For Connecticut, this compared to sixth highest in May. The June rate was the Connecticut’s second lowest June estimated construction unemployment rate behind the 5.5% rate in 2017 since the 4.6% rate in June 2001. For Louisiana, this compared to 14th highest in May.
Alaska, which tied with Mississippi for the highest rate in May, improved dramatically to 12th highest in June (tied with Pennsylvania) with a 5.3% rate, ending its three-month run as the state with the highest construction unemployment rate. This was the state’s lowest June rate since the 4.4% rate in June 2002. Alaska had the largest drop among the states in its rate from May, down 1.3%.
To better understand the basis for calculating unemployment rates and what they measure, see the article Background on State Construction Unemployment Rates.
Visit ABC for the Construction Backlog Indicator, Construction Confidence Index and state unemployment reports, plus analysis of spending, employment, GDP and the Producer Price Index.
Associated Builders and Contractors is a national construction industry trade association established in 1950 that represents more than 21,000 members. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 69 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. Visit us at abc.org.