National Unemployment Rate Stagnant as Construction Employment Increases

The national jobless rate was little changed in July at 6.2 percent, 0.1 percent higher than in June. The rate, however, sits 1.1 percentage points lower than in July 2013, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The West continued to have the highest regional unemployment rate in the U.S. in July at 6.6 percent, the Midwest had the lowest rate at 5.9 percent, and the South saw the only statistically significant month-over-month change (+0.1 percent).

Each region, meanwhile, saw significant over-the-year rate decreases, with the Northeast and West dropping 1.5 percentage points each, the Midwest falling 1.4 percent and the South decreasing 1.0 percent.

On a state-by-state level, 30 states had unemployment rate increases from June, eight states had decreases, and 12 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) had no change, according to the report. Forty-nine states and D.C. had unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, while only one state had an increase.

In July 2014, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 36 states and D.C., decreased in 13 states and was unchanged in Iowa. The largest over-the-month increases in employment occurred in Texas, which added 46,600 jobs, and the largest over-the-month decrease in employment occurred in Ohio, which lost 12,400 jobs.

Montana saw the largest over-the-month percentage increase (0.7 percent), and the largest over-the-month percentage decline in employment occurred in West Virginia (-0.4 percent).

Over the year, nonfarm employment increased in 49 states and D.C., and decreased in Alaska (-0.7 percent), with the largest over-the-year percentage increase occurring in North Dakota (4.4 percent).

On the construction front, firms added jobs in 39 states from last July to July 2014 and in 34 states from June to July, according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Nevada experienced the largest percentage increase in construction employment between July 2013 and July 2014 with a 13.4 percent jump, followed by Delaware’s 13.3 percent increase. Florida again led all states in the number of construction jobs added from July 2013 to July 2014 with an increase of 40,600.

The District of Columbia and 11 states shed construction jobs during the past 12 months, with New Jersey again losing the highest percentage and total (-6.5 percent, -8,900 jobs).

Delaware had the largest percentage gain (5.7 percent, 1,200 jobs) from June to July, while Virginia added the most workers during the month (4,700 jobs).

Fifteen states and D.C. lost construction jobs between June and July, while construction employment was unchanged in Rhode Island. California lost the most construction jobs during the month (-6,400 jobs), and Nebraska had the highest monthly percentage decline (-3.0 percent).

“The overall trend in construction employment has been very consistent in 2014, with more than three-fourths of states adding jobs each month on a year-over-year basis,” Ken Simonson, chief economist at AGC, said in a release. “However, growing numbers of contractors say they are having trouble finding skilled workers or subcontractors that can supply such workers.”

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