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WASHINGTON, D.C.—Wisconsin's estimated not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rate in September was 2.7%, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The rate is the second lowest September on record, down a half percent from the previous month, 16th lowest among the states, and 0.2% lower than the Wisconsin overall unemployment rate.
This is the fifth consecutive month that the rate for construction was lower than the overall state unemployment rate. Once again, Wisconsin is outperforming its neighbors, including Iowa (3.6%); Minnesota (4.0%), Illinois (4.6%) and Michigan (4.6%).
The construction industry employed 155,000 more workers nationally compared to September 2018, as the September 2019 national NSA construction unemployment rate fell from 4.1% to 3.2% over the same period, according to BLS numbers. But the worrying trend of declining growth in construction employment continues. September’s increase in year-over-year employment is the smallest increase since the January 2013 increase of 116,000. Part of the slowdown in employment growth may be result of the continued shortage of skilled workers.
“In September, above-average temperatures in much of the country may have helped construction activity in some areas, but hurt it in other parts of the country,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Also, above-average precipitation in the upper Midwest and on the West Coast likely slowed construction in those regions. Higher building materials prices and the threat of additional increases due to the possible imposition of new tariffs have been and continue to be a drag on construction.”
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 rates still provides some information, although extra care must be used when drawing conclusions from these variations.