An analysis from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) shows that 45 states saw improvements in their unemployment rates. The non-seasonally adjusted rate fell almost one full percentage point from last October to 3.6%, according to information from the ABC.
Compared to 2017, the construction industry added 318,000 employees in the U.S. “Construction activity and hiring of construction workers continued to be healthy in most of the nation,” said Bernard M. Markstein, president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, which was responsible for putting together the ABC analysis.
Markstein attributed some of the labor surge to the weather, particularly along the east coast. “Warmer than normal temperatures in the eastern part of the country, coupled with recovery efforts from Hurricanes Florence and Michael, added to overall construction activity,” he said. “The result was lower unemployment rates compared to a year ago in 45 states and higher rates in Colorado, Hawaii and South Dakota, with Florida and Kansas unchanged. Further, the country and 22 states posted their lowest October construction unemployment rates on record.”
Not all facets of the construction industry saw improvements, though, with new single-family home sales dipping 8.9% in October, according to information from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). That represents the lowest sales pace since the last month of 2016.
Reports indicated affordability, largely from rising interest rates, is to blame. “The November reading is consistent with reports from our builders, who say that the job market and demographic tailwinds bode well for housing demand but rising interest rates and home prices are forcing customers to take a pause,” said Randy Noel, chairman of the NAHB. “Policymakers should see this drop in sales as an indicator that housing affordability will continue to slow down the market.”
Overall, the number of new homes available jumped 336,000 in October, while median sale prices fell close to 4%. New home sales rose in the Midwest, West and South, but dropped 17.1% in the northeast, according to NAHB. Iowa posted the lowest estimated unemployment rate in the nation, clocking in at a 1.3% clip, while Utah and Vermont were close behind at 1.7% and 1.8%, respectively.
Iowa’s October rate was the lowest in the state’s history, according to the ABC analysis. Vermont was also among the states that enjoyed its best October construction rate on record. Georgia and North Carolina hit record lows as well, according to the ABC analysis.
Alaska, with its 9.6% rate, has the highest in the nation, and Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky and Connecticut round out the bottom five. Alaska lagged the nation for the third straight month. However, it still had its best October rate in 17 years. Year-over-year, the rate dropped 5.7%, according to ABC.