Construction's jobless rate continues to show a positive trend, improving to 20% in March from February's 21.8% rate. Though last month's mark remains worrisomely high, it was much better than March 2010's 24.9%.

March also was the sixth consecutive month in which construction's jobless rate improved over the year-earlier levels.

But the Bureau of Labor Statistics latest monthly employment report, released on April 1, also shows that construction lost 1,000 jobs last month.

All of construction jobs shed were in the residential specialty trade contractors segment, which posted 8,000 positions lost.

That offset gains in all other construction sectors, including pickups of 3,200 in buildings construction and 2,400 in heavy-civil.

Another encouraging note was that architectural and engineering services jobs continued to rise, though slightly, with a gain of 5,200 in March, bringing total A/E jobs to 1.29 million.

BLS does not adjust unemployment rates for construction and other industries for seasonal swings. Rates for the highly seasonal construction industry are thus at their worst in the winter and then tend to improve as projects gear up in the spring.

Despite the modestly positive March numbers, construction's 20% unemployment rate remains by far the highest among major industries.

The overall national unemployment rate also improved a little in March, declining to 8.8% from February's 8.9%.

Construction Unemployment Rate
Month Rate in %
December 20.7
November 18.8
October 17.3
September 17.2
August 17.0
July 17.3
June 20.1
May 20.1
April 21.8
March 24.9
February 27.1
January 24.7
Note: Rates are not seasonally adjusted.
Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics