WASHINGTON — The February 2018 not seasonally adjusted (NSA) national construction unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, down 1 percent from February 2017, and the lowest national February rate on record, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released by Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC). Estimated construction unemployment rates were down in 34 states on a year-over-year basis, unchanged in one state (Arizona), and up in 15 states

At the same time, the construction industry employed 273,000 more workers than in February 2017.

“Construction activity continues to be positive in much of the country, resulting in healthy demand for construction workers,” said Bernard Markstein, president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Above-average February temperatures over much of the eastern part of the country, along with below-normal precipitation rates among several southeast and western states, were likely contributing factors to the industry’s good February performance. The shortage of skilled construction workers continues to be a significant drag on construction activity. However, recent building materials price increases, particularly for steel and aluminum, pose an additional, serious threat to future construction activity.”

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 the rates still provides some information, although care must be used in drawing conclusions from these variations.

From the beginning of the data series in January 2000 through February 2017, the national NSA construction unemployment rate from January to February has increased 11 times, decreased six times, and been unchanged once (February 2003). The rate for February 2018 adds another reading to the increase side, up 0.5 percent. Among the states, 32 were up, 16 were down, and two (Connecticut and Oklahoma) were unchanged from January.

Publication date: 4/23/2018

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