The new NAHB study presents the most recent and comprehensive estimates of home building employment, including self-employed workers, by state and congressional district. NAHB Economics estimates that out of 9.6 million people working in construction in 2015, close to 3.8 million people worked in residential construction, accounting for 2.5% of the US employed civilian labor force.
These numbers reflect steady job gains that took place since 2011 when construction employment bottomed out. Nevertheless, the industry employment levels remain far below the peaks reached during the housing boom when more than 11 million worked in construction, and home building employed more than 5 million people.
The most populous state—California—also has the most residential construction workers. More than half a million California residents worked in home building in 2015, accounting for 3% of the state employed labor force.
Florida comes in second with close to 334,000 residential construction workers, accounting for a relatively high share of the employed state labor (3.7%). Even though this share is well above the national average, it is significantly lower than in 2005 when Florida registered the highest share among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 6.2%.
Among the states hardest hit by the housing downturn and slowest to recover home building jobs are Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico still showing job losses of 48.8%, 45.1%, and 44.8%, respectively, compared to 2006. Despite these significant job losses, home building in Nevada and Arizona continues to employ a relatively high share of local workers – 2.9% and 3.1% of the employed civilian labor force.
Similarly to Florida, states with high prevalence of seasonal, vacation homes, top the state list with the highest share of residential construction workers in 2013. Montana with 4.4% of the employed labor force working in home building takes the top spot on the list. In addition to Montana and Florida, eight other states register shares of residential construction workers that exceed 3%: Idaho (3.8%), Vermont (3.6%), Utah (3.4%), Colorado (3.3%), Maine (3.3%), North Carolina (3.1%), Arizona (3.1%), and New Hampshire (3.1%).
Congressional district estimates are particularly useful to highlight the importance of home building to voting constituency residing in the district. The NAHB estimates show that the average congressional district has close to 8,650 residents working in residential construction but that number is often significantly higher and actually exceeds 21,500 in Montana’s single Congressional district.
Florida’s 27th in far South Florida (Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – R) comes second with more than 18,780 employed in home building. Florida’s 19th District (Rep. Curt Clawson – R) that serves an area on the west coast of Florida from Fort Myers to Marco Island is third with just under 17,400 residential construction workers residing there. Two additional districts in the state of Florida made the top ten list – Florida’s 25th (Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart – R) and Florida’s 22nd (Rep. Lois Frankel – D) – with almost 16,600 and 15,300 residents working in home building, respectively. California’s 41st (Rep. Mark Takano – D) in Western Riverside County has close to 17,300 residential construction workers. Arizona 7th (Rep. Ruben Gallego – D) includes much of inner Phoenix and has close to 16,400 workers. Texas 29th that serves the eastern portion of the Greater Houston area has over 16,000 people employed in home building. Two districts from Colorado conclude the top ten list – the 7th district (Rep. Tony Cardenas – D) and 1st (Rep. Duncan D. Hunter – R) – with more than 15,000 residents working in the home building industry.
By design, Congressional districts are drawn to represent roughly the same number of people. So generally, large numbers of residential construction workers translate into high shares of RC workers in their district employed labor forces. The 19th District of Florida has the highest share of residential construction workers in its employed labor force, 5.6%. California’s 41st and Florida’s 27th Districts are close behind with 5.3%. Arizona’s 7th also register the share of residential construction workers in excess of 5%.
The NAHB residential construction employment estimates include self-employed workers. Counting self-employed is particularly important in the home building industry since they traditionally make up a larger share of the labor force. According to the 2015 ACS, over 23% of construction workers are self-employed, while an economy-wide average does not reach 10% of the employed labor force.
The new NAHB home building employment estimates only include workers directly employed by the industry and do not count jobs created in related industries– such as design and architecture, furniture making, building materials, landscaping, etc. As a result, the estimates underestimate the overall impact of home building on local employment.
The complete NAHB report, including all state and congressional district estimates, is available to the public as a courtesy of Housing Economics Online.