Construction Unemployment Dips in Most States

Construction unemployment rates improved in 46 states and throughout the nation from May 2015 to May 2016, according to analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Associated Builders and Contractors.

The May national not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rate of 5.2 percent was 1.5 percent lower than a year ago, while the industry employed 213,000 more people than in May 2015.

“May is typically the month in which construction activity increases as the weather improves across the nation,” says Dr. Bernard M. Markstein, president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors. “Dating back to the beginning of the data series in January 2000, the NSA rate has improved from April to May in all but one year. This year’s decline of 0.8 percent continues that pattern and matches the monthly decrease in 2014 and 2015. Additionally, the decrease in the construction unemployment rate from May 2015 extends the string of uninterrupted, monthly year-over-year rate decreases that began in October 2010.”

He adds that all of the top five states are “cold weather states that benefit greatly from the normal improvement in the weather that occurs in May. With the exception of Minnesota, all of the top five states have small construction workforces. As a result, small changes in construction employment can translate into large swings in their construction unemployment rates from month to month.”

Only three states—Pennsylvania, North Dakota and South Dakota—had their May estimated construction unemployment rate increase from a year ago, while Texas had no change in its rate from May 2015. The year-over-year increase for Pennsylvania and South Dakota was small, up 0.1 percent. All states had construction unemployment rates under 10 percent, an occurrence last observed in July 2015.

The five states with the lowest construction unemployment rates in May in order from lowest rate to highest were Idaho, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wyoming and Vermont. The five states with the highest construction unemployment rates from lowest to highest were Illinois, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Rhode Island and New Mexico.

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