Estimated December not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 44 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.
As the December 2018 national NSA construction unemployment rate fell 0.8 percent from a year ago to 5.1 percent, the construction industry employed 283,000 more workers nationally compared to December 2017, according to BLS numbers.
“Although the December construction employment numbers do not capture the effects of the government shutdown, the healthy data continue to suggest the construction industry is still doing well,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Unemployment rates were lower compared to a year ago in 44 states, higher in four states and unchanged in two—Louisiana and Mississippi. The country and 29 of the states posted their lowest December construction unemployment rates on record. In addition, this is the first December on record when all state unemployment rates except for Alaska’s were below 10 percent.”
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 rose 1.2 percent from November to December, a monthly increase that has been the pattern since the report first began in 2000. Forty-seven states posted higher estimated construction unemployment rates, while Hawaii, Alaska and Nevada were down from November.
The Top Five States
The states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates in order from lowest to highest were:
1. Delaware, 2.8 percent
2. Utah, 2.9 percent
3. Georgia and Nevada (tied), 3 percent
5. Texas and Virginia (tied), 3.4 percent
Delaware, Georgia and Utah were also in the top five in November. Delaware had the lowest construction unemployment rate in December, up from third lowest in November (tied with Georgia) based on revised data (originally reported as second lowest). It was also the state’s lowest estimated December rate on record. Note that Delaware’s unemployment rate is a rate for construction, mining and logging combined. For both Delaware and Hawaii, data to estimate a construction unemployment rate alone are not available.
Utah had the second lowest rate in December, down from lowest rate in November.
Georgia and Nevada tied for the third lowest rate in December. For Georgia, this was the same ranking as in November (tied with Delaware) based on revised data (originally reported as fourth lowest). For Nevada, it was up from 14th lowest (tied with South Carolina). For both states, this was the lowest December construction unemployment rate on record.
Texas and Virginia tied for the fifth lowest rate in December. Both states were tied for sixth lowest rate in November. For Texas, this was the state’s lowest December rate on record. For Virginia, this was the state’s lowest December rate (matching its rate in 2006) since hitting 2.7 percent in 2000.
Vermont, which had the second lowest rate in November based on revised data (originally reported as third lowest), dropped to 11th lowest in December with a 4.1 percent rate (tied with North Carolina). Nonetheless, it was the state’s lowest December rate on record.
For Oklahoma, which had the fifth lowest rate in November based on revised data (originally reported as fourth lowest), fell to seventh lowest rate in December with a 3.5 percent rate (tied with Hawaii). It was still the state’s lowest December 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 percent
47. West Virginia, 9 percent
48. Maine, 9.1 percent
49. Montana, 9.9 percent
50. Alaska, 13.4 percent
All of these states except for West Virginia were also in the bottom five in November. For the fifth consecutive month, Alaska had the highest estimated construction unemployment rate. Even so, this was the state’s lowest December rate on record, as well as the second largest monthly decrease (1 percent).
Repeating its November ranking, Montana had the second highest rate in December. After the December 2017 rate of 9.3 percent, it is the second lowest state unemployment rate on record since it dipped to 7.1 percent in 2007.
Maine had the third highest rate in December compared to fourth highest in November based on revised data (originally reported as third highest).
West Virginia had the fourth highest rate in December compared to eighth highest in November. This was the state’s lowest December construction unemployment rate on record.
Illinois had the fifth highest rate in December for the second month in a row based on revised data (originally reported as fourth highest in November). This was the state’s lowest December construction unemployment rate on record.
Mississippi, which had the sixth highest rate in November based on revised data (originally reported as fifth highest), was again the sixth highest in December with an 8.1 percent rate. It was the state’s lowest December rate on record, matching its 2017 rate.
Rhode Island, which had the seventh highest rate in November based on revised data (originally reported as fifth highest), improved its ranking to 11th highest in December, tied with Pennsylvania, with a 6.7 percent rate. This was the lowest December rate on record for both Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. Rhode Island also had the third largest year-over-year decrease in its rate, down 3 percent, behind Connecticut, which had the largest decline, and South Dakota, which had the second largest decline.