U.S. Sees Steady, But Modest, Construction Employment Gains

The construction industry is experiencing steady, but modest, job gains since 2011, when construction employment decreased sharply, according to a construction employment analysis from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In 2016, more than 9.8 million people worked in the U.S. construction industry, and more than 3.8 million of them worked in residential construction—which accounts for 2.5 percent of the U.S. employed civilian labor force, according to HousingEconomics.com. This is still well below the 2006 housing boom.

In 2011, the construction industry saw low employment throughout the country. During the 2006 peak, the construction industry employed more than 11 million people, and home building employed more than 5 million people.

“While it is promising to see that residential construction employment is on the rise, it is still far below where we need to be to meet the increasing demand for housing,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel in an April 3 press release. “We will continue to push for programs and policies that address the labor shortage, such as workforce development initiatives and comprehensive immigration reform.”

The NAHB’s analysis shows the average congressional district employs more than 8,800 residents in residential construction, but that can also be significantly higher. Almost 20,600 Montana residents in the state’s single congressional district work in home building. California has the highest number of residential construction workers, employing more than half a million people in home building in 2016. This still falls far below the 2006 numbers of 788,000. Florida comes in second with 361,000 residential construction workers.

Several states were severely affected by the housing downturn, including Arizona, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada. These states, other than Florida, have also been very slow to recover from the downturn, still experiencing job losses of 41 percent (Arizona), 46 percent (New Mexico) and 43 percent (Nevada), compared to 2006, according to the NAHB. Even with these job losses, home building in Arizona and Nevada employs relatively high shares of local workers, at more than 3 percent of the employed labor force.

The NAHB’s estimates of residential construction employment by state and congressional district—which also include estimates of self-employed workers—come from the American Community Survey from the Census Bureau and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The full study can be found at HousingEconomics.com.

About the Author

Marlena Chertock

Freelance Writer
Marlena Chertock is a former editorial intern at Electrical Contractor magazine who now writes for the magazine as a freelance journalist. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Marketplace, NBC News, News21, WTOP and The Gazette. Contact...

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