WASHINGTON, D.C. – The March 2018 not seasonally adjusted (NSA) national construction unemployment rate was down 1 percent from March 2017, and estimated construction unemployment rates also fell in 37 states – including Wisconsin – on a year-over-year basis, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

The national unemployment rate was 7.4 percent, the lowest national March rate on record. At the same time, the construction industry employed 246,000 more workers than in March 2017.

In Wisconsin, the construction unemployment rate for March landed at 7 percent, down 2.6 percent from March 2017. The change was the 5th best year-over-year improvement of all 50 states.

Wisconsin was tied with Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont for the 19th lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rate in March.

“Demand for construction workers in March continued to be strong despite the usual wild spring weather in parts of the country,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Healthy demand for construction workers is most noticeable in the demand for skilled construction workers. However, recent building materials price increases, particularly for steel and aluminum, present the greatest threat to continued strong growth of construction activity and employment.”

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.

From the beginning of the data series in January 2000 through March 2017, the national NSA construction unemployment rate from February to March has decreased 15 times, increased twice (2008 and 2012) and been unchanged once (2016). The rate for March 2018 adds another reading to the decrease side, down 0.4 percent from February. Among the states, 36 were down, 13 were up and one (Maryland) was unchanged from February.