Wisconsin’s January construction unemployment was up a tick from December

From ABC National

WASHINGTON, D.C., Mar. 26, 2020 — Wisconsin’s estimated not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rate in January was 6%, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), 0.1% higher than December 2019.  The rate was 0.6% higher than the 5.4% rate in January 2019. The overall Wisconsin unemployment rate was 4.2% in January.

The 4.2% in November ranks 27th among the states. Once again, Wisconsin continues to outperform its neighboring states, including Michigan (7.4%); Minnesota (8.9%); Illinois (8.9%); and Iowa (11.8%).

Chart of state construction unemployment percentages

As of January 2020, the construction industry employed 172,000 more workers nationally compared to January 2019 while the national NSA construction unemployment rate decreased from 6.4% to 5.4% over the same period, according to BLS numbers. This reversed the trend of declining year-over-year growth in construction employment, a sign of the underlying health of the construction industry prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States.

“In January, all of the country experienced above-average temperatures with the Northeast, from Wisconsin and Illinois eastward, registering significantly warmer than normal weather. This aided construction activity and employment,” said Bernard M. Markstein, Ph.D., president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “These numbers were collected before it was known that COVID-19 was in the United States and precautions, such as select cities and Pennsylvania shutting down construction jobsites, were taken to prevent its spread. The larger effect of COVID-19 on construction unemployment won’t be reflected until the March and April data.”

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.

The national NSA construction unemployment rate increased 0.4% from December 2019 to January. Over the time since the data series began in 2000, the historical pattern always has been an increase in rates from December. Among the states, 41 had higher estimated construction unemployment rates than in December, while eight were lower and one was unchanged (New York). At the same time, the nation and 35 states posted their lowest January construction unemployment rate on record.


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