Wisconsin March Construction Unemployment Just Misses Record Mark

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Estimated March not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates fell nationally and in 49 states 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.

In Wisconsin, the NSA construction unemployment rate for March was 5.0%, a drop of .8% from March 2018’s rate of 5.8% and 18th best among the states. Wisconsin’s rate is the second lowest state rate on record for March and only a .2% off the record mark in February 2017. Wisconsin also compares favorably to neighboring states, such as Minnesota (7.8%), Michigan (8.2%), Iowa (5.6%) and Illinois (8.7%).

Nebraska was the sole outlier, where construction unemployment rose from 5.1% in March 2018 to 5.3% in this latest report. The country and 31 of the states posted their lowest March construction unemployment rates on record.

As the March 2019 national NSA construction unemployment rate fell 2.2% from a year ago to 5.2%, the construction industry employed 239,000 more workers nationally compared to March 2018, according to BLS numbers.

“The March construction employment numbers are a reflection that construction remains a positive for the economy throughout the country,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Reflecting this strength, unemployment rates in March were lower compared to a year ago in all but one state, Nebraska. This was the first time in the history of these state estimated construction unemployment rates that rates fell in 49 states on a year-over-year basis.”

The national NSA construction unemployment rate fell 1% from February to March. A decrease in the monthly rate is the normal pattern. Since the report first began in 2000, the monthly rate declined 16 times, rose twice, and remained unchanged once in March. Among the states, 42 posted lower estimated construction unemployment rates from February, two had no change (Georgia and Louisiana) and six were higher.

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.

March Wisconsin NSA Construction
Unemployment Since 2004
2004 16.6%
2005 15.5%
2006 15.2%
2007 16.8%
2008 14.5%
2009 22.2%
2010 27.5%
2011 21.7%
2012 20.0%
2013 19.3%
2014 18.4%
2015 11.6%
2016 11.8%
2017 4.8%
2018 6.6%
2019 5.0%
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