WASHINGTON — Estimated October construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 45 states 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 (ABC).

While the October 2018 not seasonally adjusted national construction unemployment rate fell 0.9 percent from a year ago to 3.6 percent, the construction industry employed 318,000 more workers nationally compared to October 2017, according to BLS statistics.

“Construction activity and hiring of construction workers continued to be healthy in most of the nation,” said Bernard Markstein, president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Warmer than normal temperatures in the eastern part of the country, coupled with recovery efforts from Hurricanes Florence and Michael, added to overall construction activity. The result was lower unemployment rates compared to a year ago in 45 states and higher rates in Colorado, Hawaii, and South Dakota, with Florida and Kansas unchanged. Further, the country and 22 states posted their lowest October construction unemployment rates on record.” 

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 extra care must be used in drawing conclusions from these variations. 

The national NSA construction unemployment rate from September to October fell 0.5 percent. Only four states posted higher estimated construction unemployment rates; 42 states were down from September and four were unchanged. 

The states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were: Iowa, 1.3 percent; Utah, 1.7 percent; Vermont, 1.8 percent; and North Dakota and Wyoming who tied with 2 percent.

Three of these states — North Dakota, Utah, and Vermont — were in the top five in September. 

Iowa, which shot up from tied with Missouri for 12th lowest in September, had the lowest construction unemployment rate in October at 1.3 percent, the state’s lowest October rate on record. Along with Wyoming, it had the second largest monthly drop, down 2.1 percent. 

Georgia, which tied with North Dakota for second lowest rate in September, slipped to sixth lowest rate in October with a 2.4 percent rate (tied with Idaho). Nevertheless, it was the state’s lowest October rate on record. North Carolina, which had the fifth lowest construction unemployment rate in September, dropped to 12th lowest in October with a rate of 2.9 percent, tied with Virginia. It was still the state’s lowest October rate on record. 

The states with the highest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were: Connecticut, 5.5 percent; Arkansas (tied), 5.6 percent; Kentucky (tied), 5.6 percent; Mississippi, 7 percent; and Alaska, 9.6 percent.

Alaska and Mississippi were also in the bottom five in September. Alaska had the highest estimated construction unemployment rate for the third consecutive month. This was the state’s lowest October rate since 2001, when it was 8.4 percent. It was also the state with the largest year-over-year decrease in its rate, down 5.7 percent. Mississippi had the second highest rate for the third month in a row. It was the state’s lowest October rate since construction unemployment reached 6.8 percent rate in 2006. 

West Virginia and Maine, which had the third and fourth highest rates in September, respectively, improved to tied for eighth highest in October with a 5.1 percent rate. For West Virginia, it was the state’s lowest October rate since the 4.4 percent rate it posted in 2001. For Maine, it was the state’s lowest October rate since hitting 4.9 percent in 2001. 

Hawaii, which only reports mining and construction employment combined, had the fifth highest construction unemployment rate in September but improved to the 24th highest rate in October with a 3.5 percent rate. The state had the largest monthly drop, down 2.3 percent. It was the state’s second lowest October rate since 2006, when it was 2.6 percent. 

Publication date: 11/27/2018

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