State Construction Unemployment Rates Down in 49 States From a Year Ago

The not seasonally adjusted (NSA) national construction unemployment rate dropped 2.6 percent in September 2021 from a year ago while 49 states had lower unemployment rates over the same period, according to state-by-state analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). Only one state, Alaska, had a higher estimated rate than it did in September 2020.

While not fully recovered to its pre-pandemic level, national NSA construction employment was up 209,000 from September 2020. Seasonally adjusted construction employment remained at 201,000, or 2.6 percent below its February 2020 peak, before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect the employment numbers. This was better than national, seasonally adjusted non-farm payroll employment, which was 3.3 percent below its February 2020 peak as of September.

The national NSA construction unemployment rate increased from 3.2 percent in September 2019 to 4.5 percent in September 2021. Over that same period, 22 states had lower construction unemployment rates, two states – Arkansas and West Virginia – were unchanged and 26 states had higher rates.

“The construction industry is struggling with supply chain issues like spikes in steel prices, extended delivery time for roofing materials and shortages of desired appliances for new homes and offices,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “These problems have been exacerbated by a shortage of skilled workers. Nonetheless, employment in construction has increased as projects have moved forward despite these obstacles. Construction remains one of the relative bright spots in the economy as the nation continues to recover from its pandemic lows.”

The five states with the lowest September 2021 estimated NSA construction unemployment rates were:

Nebraska, 1.1 percent
Georgia and Utah (tie), 1.2 percent
Idaho, 1.4 percent
Oklahoma, 1.5 percent

The states with the highest September 2021 estimated NSA construction unemployment rates were:

Rhode Island, 7 percent
Alaska, 7.3 percent
New Mexico, 7.6 percent
New Jersey, 8 percent
New York, 8.4 percent

Three of these states – New Jersey, New Mexico and New York – were in the bottom five in August.

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