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ABC: Construction unemployment down in 45 states in March 2022

By |  April 27, 2022

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National construction unemployment was down at a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 2.6 percent in March 2022 compared to a year earlier, with 45 states reporting lower unemployment rates over the same period, according to a state-by-state analysis of federal data done by the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC).

Unemployment dropped from 8.6 percent in March 2021 to 6 percent in March 2022, according to the organization. ABC says this improvement occurred as omicron variant cases decreased and many states began lifting some or all COVID-19 restrictions.

National non-seasonally adjusted construction employment was 230,000 jobs higher than March 2021 and, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, seasonally adjusted construction employment edged above its February 2020 pre-pandemic peak, up 4,000 jobs in March 2022, ABC says. That comes as national seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment was 1 percent below its February 2020 peak, despite continued improvements, according to ABC.

Residential construction employment rebounded more strongly than nonresidential construction employment, ABC says. March’s seasonally adjusted residential construction employment was 83,000 jobs above its pre-pandemic peak, while nonresidential construction employment was 79,000 jobs below its pre-pandemic peak, a net gain of 4,000 construction jobs, according to ABC.

“The construction industry has shown remarkable resiliency in the face of many pandemic-related obstacles,” says Bernard Markstein, president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Now, the industry faces rising interest rates and further supply chain disruptions due to the Russia-Ukraine war. Nonetheless, the near-term outlook for construction activity and employment remains positive. Both builders and developers have shown remarkable agility in coping with the numerous challenges over the past two years.”

Recent fluctuations

While ABC says national and state unemployment rates are best evaluated on a year-over-year basis because they are not seasonally adjusted, due to the changing impact of COVID-19 and related shifts in public policy, month-to-month comparisons offer a better understanding of the pandemic’s effect on construction employment. However, the organization says care must be used in drawing conclusions from these numbers.

Since the data series began in 2000, national non-seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates have generally fallen from February to March, with 18 decreases, three increases and one year with no change, according to ABC.

March 2022 posted another decline, down 0.7 percent from February. Thirty-eight states had lower estimated construction unemployment than in February, 11 states had higher rates and one (Montana) had the same rate.

State unemployment

According to the analysis, the states with the lowest March 2022 estimated non-seasonally adjusted construction unemployment were South Dakota (1.3 percent), Nebraska (1.8 percent), Utah (2 percent), Arizona (2.8 percent) and Georgia and Idaho tied for fifth with 3.2 percent construction unemployment.

Arizona, Georgia, South Dakota and Utah each posted their lowest March estimated non-seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rate on record. Meanwhile, Idaho and Nebraska turned in their second lowest March rates on record. Both were only 0.1 percent above their lowest rate.

The five states with the highest March 2022 estimated non-seasonally adjusted construction unemployment were New Jersey (8.9 percent), Michigan (9.3 percent), Illinois (9.8 percent), West Virginia (9.9 percent) and New York (10.3 percent).

New Jersey and New York had the fourth and fifth largest year-over-year decrease in unemployment, respectively, among the states.

Jack Kopanski

About the Author:

Jack Kopanski is the Managing Editor for Pit & Quarry and Portable Plants. Kopanski can be reached at 216-706-3756 or jkopanski@northcoastmedia.net.

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