With 33,000 net new jobs added to the industry in April, construction unemployment at a record low and other positive signs across the broader economy, a downturn is at bay for at least another year, according to Associated Builders and Contractors’ analyses of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
The construction industry had 256,000 more jobs last month than March 2018, which represents a 3.5% increase. Last month, the nonresidential sector added 32,400 net positions, the majority of which (22,100) were created by specialty trade contractors. Year over year, that subsector created 114,200 jobs, according to BLS.
April also saw the lowest construction unemployment rate since BLS started the series in 2000. Compared to a 3.6% national unemployment rate, the lowest level since 1969, construction unemployment decreased 2.2% year over year to 4.7%.
“The case for an economic downturn over the next 12 to 18 months is fading fast,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu, noting that the country has created new jobs for 103 months consecutively. “With inflation and interest rates low, the cost of capital remains suppressed, helping to induce ongoing spending growth among companies, consumers and governments alike. Corporate earnings remain strong, and today's employment report indicates that many remain firmly in growth mode.”
In March, construction unemployment decreased in 49 states on a year-over-year basis, the first time on record that all but one state saw declines, according to Bernard M. Markstein, president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC.
Nebraska was the only outlier, the report found, with a slight increase from 5.1% unemployment in March 2018 to 5.3% in March 2019. Utah saw the lowest estimated not seasonally adjusted construction unemployment rate (1.9%), followed by Nevada (2.7%), South Dakota (3%), Florida (3.4%) and Colorado (3.4%).
The rates seen in these five states, as well as in Arizona and Oregon, represent the lowest March level on record, according to the report.
At the bottom of the list was Alaska, with a 13.5% construction unemployment rate. Missouri (9.7%), Kentucky (9.6%), Connecticut (8.8%) and Illinois (8.7%) rounded out the bottom five.