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Following a series of strong job reports to end 2023 and begin 2024, an analysis by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) finds that the construction sector unemployment rates improved in half of the nation in 2023. ABC says 25 states had lower sector unemployment rates at the end of 2023 compared with 2022, while 21 states saw construction unemployment tick up year over year.

Additionally, in December, 31 states had lower construction unemployment rates than pre-pandemic December 2019.

“Continued high interest rates have been a drag on plans for new construction,” Bernard Markstein, president and chief economist for Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC. “However, industry employment remains healthy, as builders work on their backlog of projects and employers fill some of their advertised positions.”

According to the analysis, 32 states had lower estimated construction unemployment rates in December than the previous month. Maryland (0.5%), Georgia (1.7%), Utah (1.9%), Delaware (2.1%), and Tennessee (2.1%) had the lowest estimated nonseasonally adjusted construction unemployment rates in December.

Conversely, Vermont (7.3%), Illinois (7.5%), Alaska (9.4%), Connecticut (10.5%0, and Rhode Island (11.3%) had the highest unemployment rates in December. Despite ranking high relative to other states, the sector unemployment rate declined on a year-over-year basis in Vermont and Illinois.

South Dakota, Minnesota, Vermont, and Pennsylvania reported the largest declines in construction unemployment rates on a year-over-year basis. Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Montana recorded the largest year-over-year increases in sector unemployment rates.

For the whole country, the average unemployment rate for the construction sector at the end of 2023 was 4.4%, slightly above the overall economy’s unemployment rate of 3.7%.