The not seasonally adjusted (NSA) national construction unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in October, down 1.2 percent from a year ago, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. It was the lowest October rate on record, matching the rate in 2006, according to analysis released by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). Further, the construction industry employed 180,000 more workers than in October 2016.

Construction unemployment rates were also down in 44 states on a year-over-year basis, unchanged in one (South Dakota) and up in five states.

“Recovery from the various hurricanes that hit the United States appeared to be a major factor in October construction employment. Some northern states that would normally have an increase in their NSA construction unemployment rate had flat or down rates. This is likely due to some construction workers leaving those states to help with hurricane recovery,” says Bernard Markstein, president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “The need for construction workers as part of recovery and rebuilding efforts after this year’s devastating hurricanes, floods and wildfires is providing employment for workers who normally would be subject to seasonal layoffs.”

From the beginning of the data series in 2000 through 2016, the monthly movement in the national NSA construction unemployment rate from September to October has recorded a decrease five times and an increase 12 times. This year, the rate was down 0.2 percent from September. Among the states, 25 had decreases in their October estimated rate from September, 21 were up and four (California, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania) had no change.

The Top Five States

The states with the lowest estimated October NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:

  1. Hawaii, 2 percent
  2. Idaho, 2.3 percent
  3. Colorado, 2.5 percent
  4. Vermont, 2.7 percent
  5. Iowa, 2.8 percent

Hawaii’s number one ranking was a jump from 16th lowest in September, tied with Kansas and North Carolina. It was the state’s lowest October rate since the beginning of the estimates in 2000. Further, Hawaii had the largest monthly drop and the fifth largest year-over-year decline in its rate among the states.

Note that Hawaii’s unemployment rate is a rate for construction, mining and logging combined. The data to estimate a construction unemployment rate alone are not available for either Hawaii or Delaware.

The Bottom Five States

The states with the highest October NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:

  1. Pennsylvania, 6.4 percent
  2. New Jersey, 6.5 percent
  3. Illinois, 7.1 percent
  4. New Mexico, 8.4 percent
  5. Alaska, 15 percent

Three of these states—Alaska, Illinois and New Mexico—were also among the five states with the highest construction unemployment rates in September. Alaska had the highest rate in the nation for the third month in a row. The state also had the largest monthly increase, up 4.8 percent from September, and the largest year-over-year increase, up 1.6 percent.

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