November Construction Unemployment Rates Improve in 37 States from 2014
Analysis by Bernard Markstein, Ph.D.
WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 5- Unusually mild weather in much of the country coupled with general improvement in the nation's economy benefited construction and consequently construction unemployment rates in November. Not seasonally adjusted (NSA) construction unemployment rates for the country and 37 states were lower than in November 2014. As of November, year-to-date seasonally adjusted (SA) employment in construction increased by 215,000 in the U.S. Meanwhile, NSA construction jobs nationally increased by 267,000 from November 2014 to November 2015.
Note that NSA unemployment rates tend to have a seasonal pattern. The November national NSA construction unemployment rate typically increases from October. From 2000 to 2014, the November national NSA construction unemployment rate rose from October every year except for two years—2011 and 2013. This year, the November rate was unchanged from October.
One indication that the construction industry has been, and continues to be, on the mend is that the year-over-year change in the national NSA construction unemployment rate has fallen every month for over five years—starting in October 2010.
Note: Since the estimates for October 2015 state construction unemployment rates were made, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released data for 2014 that significantly affects some of the previous estimates of the state estimated rates, including estimates for 2015 monthly rates, along with the normal revisions for data in previous months. Among the states that had large changes in their October 2015 estimated construction unemployment rates were Alaska (revised from 10.1 percent to 15.7 percent), Wyoming (from 3 percent to 6.6 percent), North Dakota (from 1.8 percent to 4.5 percent), and Georgia (from 8.6 percent to 4.3 percent).
As a result, in some cases, the changes significantly affected their previous ranking among state construction unemployment rates for October. Thus, for example, Virginia went from ranked tied with Indiana for 22nd lowest rate to 11th lowest rate. Indiana moved up to tied for 16th lowest rate. Wyoming went from ranked sixth lowest to tied for 32nd lowest. Louisiana went from 20th lowest to seventh highest. But most dramatically, Georgia went from second highest rate to seventh lowest rate.
The Top Six States
The six states with the lowest construction unemployment rates in November in order were:
1. New Hampshire
3. Georgia and Virginia (tie)
5. Idaho and Maryland* (tie)
* Unemployment rate is for construction, mining, and logging combined
Three states—Colorado, Idaho, and New Hampshire—were among the top five in October. The unseasonably warm weather in the East helped New Hampshire rise to the top of the list with a 3.7 percent rate from fourth lowest in October based on revised data.
Number two Colorado, with a 3.9 percent unemployment rate, was down from the number one slot in October based on revised data (previously reported with the fifth lowest rate).
Georgia and Virginia tied for third lowest construction unemployment rate, both with an estimated 4 percent rate. Georgia had the seventh lowest rate in October based on revised data. Virginia improved from eleventh lowest in October.
Idaho and Maryland tied for fifth lowest with a 4.1 percent construction unemployment rate. Idaho was down from third lowest in October based on revised data. However, Maryland improved from twelfth lowest rate in October, tied with Massachusetts and Texas, based on revised data.
Nebraska and Utah were in the top five in October—second and fifth lowest, respectively—based on revised data. Utah's 4.8 percent November construction unemployment rate tied for tenth lowest with Texas. Nebraska was right behind those two states with the twelfth lowest rate at 4.9 percent.
The Bottom Five States
The five states with the highest construction unemployment rates (from lowest to highest) were:
47. North Dakota and West Virginia (tie)
49. New Mexico
Three of the five states with the highest estimated construction unemployment rates in November—Alaska, New Mexico, and West Virginia—were among the five highest in October. Not surprisingly for this time of year given that these are NSA rates, Alaska had the highest rate for the second month in a row. On the positive side, its rate was lower than in October, down 0.9 percent. Also, Alaska's 14.8 percent rate was the lowest November rate since 2002 and was 2.4 percent lower than in November 2014.
New Mexico had the second highest rate for the second month in a row with a 10.8 percent construction unemployment rate. That is a slight improvement over August and September when it had the highest rate. However, it had the second largest November year-over-year increase in its rate. Also, New Mexico has had the highest total unemployment rate among the states for three months in a row.
North Dakota and West Virginia tied for the third highest construction unemployment rate in November with a 10.4 percent rate. West Virginia tied for the fourth highest rate in October with Nevada. Nevada improved to twelfth highest in November with an 8.2 percent rate, the same rate as Arkansas.
North Dakota, on the other hand, had among the lowest construction unemployment rates among the states for many months. In October, it had the ninth lowest rate, tied with Iowa, based on revised data. Now it appears that the lower energy price birds have finally come home to roost. Beyond being tied for the third highest rate, the state had both the largest monthly and year-over-year increases in its November construction unemployment rate.
Illinois had the fifth highest estimated construction unemployment rate with a 9.9 percent rate.
In October, the state had the eighth highest rate. Nonetheless, the state's rate was down 0.4 percent from November 2014.
Read more on ABC's website.
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) launched its state-by-state economic analysis earlier this year with the release of economist Bernard M. Markstein's analysis of construction's contribution to each state's gross domestic product (GDP). Unique to ABC, Markstein's state-level construction unemployment estimate and analysis of state-level construction job markets is released each month according to this schedule.
This analysis is produced in addition to ABC's existing national economic data and analysis. Background on how the data was derived and Markstein's methodology is available on ABC's website. Markstein is also available for an interview to provide further analysis.
In addition, ABC launched Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard (meritshopscorecard.org) on Dec. 2, 2015. The scorecard identifies states that have created an environment where contractors are well positioned to succeed and states where strategic improvements need to be made in order to create a more friendly business environment.