WASHINGTON, May 2—Estimated March not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 49 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. Nebraska was the sole outlier, where construction unemployment rose from 5.1% in March 2018 to 5.3 in this latest report. The country and 31 of the states posted their lowest March construction unemployment rates on record.

As the March 2019 national NSA construction unemployment rate fell 2.2% from a year ago to 5.2%, the construction industry employed 239,000 more workers nationally compared to March 2018, according to BLS numbers.

“The March construction employment numbers are a reflection that construction remains a positive for the economy throughout the country,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Reflecting this strength, unemployment rates in March were lower compared to a year ago in all but one state, Nebraska. This was the first time in the history of these state estimated construction unemployment rates that rates fell in 49 states on a year-over-year basis.”

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 fell 1% from February to March. A decrease in the monthly rate is the normal pattern. Since the report first began in 2000, the monthly rate declined 16 times, rose twice, and remained unchanged once in March. Among the states, 42 posted lower estimated construction unemployment rates from February, two had no change (Georgia and Louisiana) and six were higher.

The Top Five States

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

1.       Utah, 1.9%

2.       Nevada, 2.7%

3.       South Dakota, 3%

4.       Florida, 3.3%

5.       Colorado, 3.4% 

All of these states except for Nevada were also in the top five in February. Utah had the lowest construction unemployment rate in March, the same as in February (tied with Florida), based on revised data (originally reported as second lowest). It was the state’s lowest March rate on record, matching its 2015 rate.

Nevada had the second lowest rate in March, up sharply from 19th lowest in February. It was the state’s lowest March rate on record.

South Dakota had the third lowest rate in March. This was up from the fifth lowest rate in February based on revised data (originally reported as fourth lowest). It was the state’s lowest March estimated construction unemployment rate on record.

Florida had the fourth lowest rate in March, down from the lowest rate in February. It was the state’s lowest March rate on record, matching its 2006 rate.

Colorado had the fifth lowest rate in March, down from third lowest in February. It was Colorado’s lowest March rate on record, matching its 2000 rate.

Arizona, which had the fourth lowest rate in February based on revised data (originally reported as fifth lowest, tied with Oregon), dropped to seventh lowest in March with a 3.7% rate. Nevertheless, it was the state’s lowest March rate on record.

 Oregon, which was originally reported as fifth lowest (tied with Arizona) in February but was sixth lowest based on revised data, fell to 12th lowest in March with a 4.1% rate. However, it was still the state’s lowest March construction unemployment rate on record.

The Bottom Five States

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

46.   Illinois, 8.7%

47.   Connecticut, 8.8%

48.   Kentucky, 9.6%

49.   Missouri, 9.7%

50.   Alaska, 13.5%

Three of these states—Alaska, Illinois and Missouri—were also in the bottom five in February. Alaska had the highest estimated construction unemployment rate in March compared to third from highest in February based on revised data (originally reported as highest). This was the state’s lowest March rate on record.

Missouri had the second highest rate in March, an improvement from tied for highest with Montana in February based on revised data (originally reported as third highest).

Kentucky had the third highest rate in March compared to 10th highest in February. Nonetheless, it was the state’s lowest March rate on record since it hit 8.8% in 2000, making it the second lowest March rate on record.

Connecticut had the fourth highest rate in March compared to eighth highest in February. This was the state’s lowest March construction unemployment rate since March 2001, when it was 8.1%.

 

Illinois had the fifth highest rate in March, an improvement from fourth highest in February. This was the state’s lowest March estimated construction unemployment rate on record.

 

Montana, which tied with Missouri for highest rate in February based on revised data (originally reported as second highest) leapt to eighth highest in March with a rate of 8.1%. This was Montana’s second lowest March rate on record behind March 2007, when it was 5.9%.

 

Rhode Island, which had the fifth highest rate in February, improved to 10th highest in March with a 7.3% rate. This was the state’s lowest March estimated construction unemployment rate on record.