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The March 2024 not seasonally adjusted national construction unemployment rate was 5.4%, down 0.2% from the previous year, according to a state-by-state analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released by Associated Builders and Contractors. The analysis also found that 29 states had lower unemployment rates over the same period, two states were unchanged (New Jersey and Oklahoma) and 19 states were higher.

National NSA payroll construction employment was 275,000 higher than in March 2023. Since February 2022, seasonally adjusted construction employment has exceeded its pre-pandemic peak of 7.6 million. As of March 2024, SA payroll construction employment stood at 8.2 million.

Indicating the relative tightness of the construction employment market in many states, this March, 31 states had lower construction unemployment rates compared to March 2019 (pre-pandemic) and 19 states had higher rates.

“Despite elevated interest rates, construction activity and employment continue at a healthy pace,” said Bernard Markstein, president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “Builders are hiring as they seek to replace retiring workers and anticipate winning future work. Nonresidential construction activity and employment continue to benefit from federal funding and tax incentives for manufacturers, and funding for state and local infrastructure projects is strong.”

Recent Month-to-Month Fluctuations 

In March, every state had lower estimated construction unemployment rates than in February. The last time that all 50 states had lower rates than in the previous month was in May 2018.

The Top Five States 

The five states with the lowest estimated NSA construction unemployment rates for March were:

1. Maryland, 1% 

2. North Dakota, 1.5% 

3. Utah, 1.7% 

4. Iowa, 2.2% 

5. Georgia, 2.3% 

North Dakota, Iowa and Georgia each posted their lowest March NSA estimated construction unemployment rate on record. Utah notched its second-lowest March rate, behind 2022’s 1.6% rate. Maryland had its second-lowest March rate, behind last year’s 0.8% rate.

The Bottom Five States

The five states with the highest March estimated NSA construction unemployment rates were:

46. Illinois, 8.6% 

47. New Jersey, 9.3% 

48. Connecticut and Vermont (tie), 10.2% 

50. Rhode Island, 16.2% 

Illinois had its second-lowest March NSA estimated construction unemployment rate since 2019’s 5.1%. Meanwhile, New Jersey had its lowest March rate since 2019, matching last year’s 9.3% rate. Despite posting the highest construction unemployment rate, Rhode Island had the largest monthly decline in its rate, down 8.6%. It was followed by Connecticut and Vermont.

Click here to view graphs of U.S. and state overall unemployment rates (Tab 1) and construction unemployment rates (Tab 2) showing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a graphing tool that creates a chart for multiple states. To better understand the basis for calculating unemployment rates and what they measure, check out the Background on State Construction Unemployment Rates.