A new research paper from NAHB Economics presents the 2010 estimates of residential construction employment by state and Congressional district. Despite significant employment losses that took place in home building during the housing downturn the industry continues to employ a substantial number of workers in most parts of the country. NAHB estimates show that, nationally, close to 3.4 million people (including self-employed) work in residential construction (RC) in 2010, accounting for 2.4 percent of the US employed civilian labor force. California has more residential construction workers than any other state, almost 475 thousand, accounting for 2.9 percent of the state employed labor force. Montana tops the state list with the highest share of RC workers, 3.7 percent of the employed labor force. The average congressional district has around 7,700 residential construction workers but that number is often significantly higher.
The map below helps visualize the distribution of RC workers across the Congressional districts. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, many areas that were once booming and consequently hardest hit by the housing downturn still show higher than average numbers and shares of RC workers.
Montana’s At-Large Congressional district (Rep. Rehberg, Dennis – R) registers the record number of residential construction workers among all districts – 17,190. The 44th District of California (Rep. Calvert, Ken – R), that includes the city of Riverside, and Texas’s 29th District (Rep. Green, Gene – D) that serves the eastern part of the Greater Houston area, come second and third respectively with more than 14,000 workers each. The top ten list also includes three districts in the state of Florida. The 18th (Rep. Rooney, Tom – R) and the 25th districts (Rep. Rivera, David – R) cover South Florida and each has nearly 14,000 residential construction workers. The 8th district (Rep. Webster, Daniel – R) that includes most of Orlando concludes the top ten list with 13,290 residents working in the home building industry. The remaining districts on the top ten list are California’s 49th (Rep. Issa, Darrell – R), Idaho’s 1st (Rep. Labrador, Raul R. – R), Arizona’s 6th (Rep. Flake, Jeff – R) and Colorado’s 7th (Rep. Perlmutter, Ed – D), each registering between 13,400 and 14,000 RC workers.
By design, Congressional districts are drawn to represent roughly the same number of people (even though in 2010, Congressional districts were still based on the 2000 Census population counts). Consequently, large numbers of RC workers generally translate into high shares of RC workers in their district employed labor forces. The 29 District of Texas has the highest share of RC workers in its employed labor force, 5.3 percent. California’s 49th District is a distant second with 4.4 percent.