The not seasonally adjusted national construction unemployment rate was 0.4% higher in September 2023 from the previous year, up from 3.4% to 3.8%. According to a state-by-state analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors, 16 states had lower unemployment rates over the same period, five were unchanged and 29 states were higher. All states posted an unemployment rate lower than 8.5%, marking the sixth consecutive month that all state rates were below 10%.
National NSA payroll construction employment was 217,000 higher than in September 2022. Starting in February 2022 through September 2023, seasonally adjusted construction employment exceeded its pre-pandemic peak of 7.6 million.
In October 2021, residential construction employment moved above its pre-pandemic peak, while nonresidential construction employment only did so in February 2023. The September 2023 seasonally adjusted residential payroll construction employment was 351,000 above its pre-pandemic peak, while nonresidential payroll construction employment was 52,000 above its pre-pandemic peak.
In September 2023, 27 states had lower construction unemployment rates compared to September 2019 (pre-pandemic), four states’ rates were unchanged and 19 states had higher rates.
“Despite high interest rates, both construction activity and employment have been unexpectedly healthy. Nonresidential construction activity and employment are rising, as federal funding and tax incentives for manufacturers, along with funding for state and local infrastructure projects, encourage new construction,” said Bernard Markstein, president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC.
Recent Month-to-Month Fluctuations
National and state unemployment rates are best evaluated on a year-over-year basis because these industry-specific rates are not seasonally adjusted. However, due to the shifting effects on the economy from high interest rates, COVID-19 infection rates and treatment improvements, energy price fluctuations and other national and international developments, month-to-month comparisons offer insight into the variable economic environment impact from these factors on construction employment.
In September, 23 states had lower estimated construction unemployment rates than in August, 21 states had higher rates and six had the same rate.
The Top Five States
The five states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates September 2023 were:
- Maryland, 0.4%
- Utah, 1.2%
- North Dakota, 1.4%
- Maine and Tennessee (tie), 1.8%
Maryland posted its lowest September NSA estimated construction unemployment rate on record. Utah matched last year’s lowest September rate on record. North Dakota and Maine both had their second lowest September construction unemployment rate on record behind last year’s 1.1% and 1.6% rates, respectively. Tennessee notched its lowest September construction unemployment rate on record.
The Bottom Five States
The five states with the highest September 2023 estimated NSA construction unemployment rates were:
- Illinois and Nevada (tie), 6.3%
- Connecticut and New Jersey (tie), 7%
- Alaska, 8.3%
Click here to view graphs of overall unemployment rates (Tab 1) and construction unemployment rates (Tab 2) showing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a graphing tool that creates a chart for multiple states. To better understand the basis for calculating unemployment rates and what they measure, check out the Background on State Construction Unemployment Rates.