WASHINGTON, D.C.—Estimated December not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 44 states -- including Wisconsin -- on a year-over-year basis, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors.

As the December 2018 national NSA construction unemployment rate fell 0.8 percent from a year ago to 5.1 percent, the construction industry employed 283,000 more workers nationally compared to December 2017, according to BLS numbers.

In Wisconsin, the NSA construction unemployment rate for December was 6.1 percent, a drop of one percent from December 2017’s rate of 7.1 percent.  Wisconsin's 6.1 percent compares favorably to neighboring states, such as Minnesota (7.1), Michigan (7.2), Iowa (7.8) and Illinois (8.7).  The lowest state rate is 2.8 percent (Delaware) and the highest is 14.8 percent (Alaska).  The rate for the U.S. as a whole is 5.1 percent.  Wisconsin's year-over-year change is 26th best among the states.  The Wisconsin rate for November was 4.8 percent. The drop from November to December is a normal, seasonal pattern over these two months. 

December 2019 Construction Unemployment Chart
“While the December construction employment numbers do not capture the effects of the government shutdown, the healthy data continues to suggest the construction industry is still doing well,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Unemployment rates were lower compared to a year ago in 44 states, higher in four states and unchanged in two—Louisiana and Mississippi. The country and 29 of the states posted their lowest December construction unemployment rates on record. In addition, this is the first December on record when all state unemployment rates except for Alaska’s were below ten percent.”

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.

The national NSA construction unemployment rate rose 1.2 percent from November to December, which has been the pattern since the report first began in 2000. Forty-seven states posted higher estimated construction unemployment rates, while Hawaii, Alaska and Nevada were down from November.