The new NAHB study presents the most recent and comprehensive estimates of home building employment, including self-employed workers, by state. NAHB Economics estimates that out of 9.8 million people working in construction in 2016, more than 3.8 million people worked in residential construction, accounting for 2.5% of the US employed civilian labor force.
These numbers reflect modest but 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, including self-employed workers.
Not surprisingly, the most populous state—California—also has the most residential construction workers. More than half a million California residents worked in home building in 2016, accounting for almost 3% of the state employed labor force. Both numbers are still significantly down from the 2006 cyclical peak. At that time, California was home to over 788 thousand residential construction workers. A decade later, a quarter million of home building jobs (32%) are still gone.
Despite being one of the states most severely affected by the housing downturn, Florida comes in second with 361 thousand residential construction workers (still unable to restore more than a third of homebuilding jobs compared to the 2006 levels). Florida has fewer residents than Texas and about as many as New York but owing to its large vacation and seasonal housing stock, employs more residential construction workers. In Florida, residential construction workers account for a relatively high 3.9% of the employed state labor. Even though this share is well above the national average (2.5%), it is drastically lower than in 2006 when Florida registered the highest share among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 6.5%.
Among the states hardest hit by the housing downturn and slowest to recover home building jobs are New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and still showing job losses of 46, 43, and 41%, 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 – more than 3% of the employed civilian labor force.
Similarly to Florida, other states with a high prevalence of seasonal, vacation homes top the list of states with the highest share of residential construction workers in 2016. Montana with 4.1% of the employed labor force working in home building takes the top spot on the list. In addition to Montana and Florida, ten other states register shares of residential construction workers that exceed 3%: Idaho (3.7%), Colorado (3.5%), Vermont (3.5%), Utah (3.4%), Maine (3.3%), Arizona (3.2%), and New Hampshire (3.2%), Delaware (3.1%), Nevada (3.1%), and Washington (3.1%).
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.
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.