Economy Watch: Demand for Construction Workers Rises

Skilled labor is particularly in demand, and the sector's unemployment rate was the lowest national March rate on record. Price increases for materials pose the greatest threat to the continued growth of construction activity.

The unemployment rate in the construction industry was down in March by 1 percent compared with a year earlier, and estimated construction unemployment rates also fell in 37 states on a year-over-year basis, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Wednesday by Associated Builders and Contractors.

The national construction unemployment rate was 7.4 percent, the lowest national March rate on record. At the same time, the construction industry employed 246,000 more workers this March than in March 2017, ABC reported.

The states with the lowest estimated construction unemployment rates from lowest to highest were Colorado and Iowa (tie), 4.1 percent; Nebraska, 4.3 percent; Virginia, 4.4 percent; and Idaho, 4.6 percent.

“Demand for construction workers in March continued to be strong despite the usual wild spring weather in parts of the country,” said Bernard M. Markstein, president and chief economist of Markstein Advisors, who conducted the analysis for ABC, in a statement. “Healthy demand for construction workers is most noticeable in the demand for skilled construction workers.”

However, Markstein pointed out, recent building materials price increases, particularly for steel and aluminum, present the greatest threat to continued strong growth of construction activity and employment.

Charts courtesy of Associated Builders and Contractors/Markstein Advisors