A 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 10.3 million people working in construction in 2017, more than 4 million people worked in residential construction, accounting for 2.6% of the US employed civilian labor force. Despite steady job gains since 2011, 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. Over 586,000 California residents worked in home building in 2017, accounting for over 3.1% of the state employed labor force.
Florida comes in second with close to 380,000 residential construction workers. 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 4.0% of the employed state labor. Even though this share is well above the national average (2.6%), it is drastically lower than in 2006 when Florida registered the highest share among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 6.5%.
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 2017. Idaho with 4.6% of the employed labor force working in home building takes the top spot on the list. Montana and Florida are close behind with 4%. In addition, eleven other states register shares of residential construction workers that exceed 3%: Utah (3.9%), Colorado (3.7%), Vermont (3.6%), Maine (3.4%), Washington (3.3%), Arizona (3.3%), New Hampshire (3.2%), Nevada (3.2%), California (3.1%), Oregon (3.1%) and North Carolina (3.0%).
As of 2017, the average congressional district has about 9,300 residents working in residential construction but that number is often significantly higher. In Montana’s single Congressional district (Rep. Greg Gianforte – R), over 21,000 residents are in home building. Arizona’s 7th Rep. Ruben Gallego – D) that includes much of inner Phoenix and Idaho’s 1st (Rep. Russ Fulcher – R) that comprises the western part of the state are close second and third with close to 21,000 residents employed in home building.
Colorado’s 7 (Rep. Ed Perlmutter – D) that encompasses parts of the Denver-Aurora metro area has over 19,000 residential construction workers residing there. Next on the list are three congressional districts in Florida with close to 19,000 residents working in home building. Florida’s 25th (Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart – R) stretches from west of Miami to east of Naples and Marco Island. Florida’s 19 (Rep. Francis Rooney – R) serves an area on the west coast of Florida from Fort Myers to Marco Island). Florida’s 10th (Rep. Val Demings – D) is inside Orange County and includes parts of Orlando, Winter garden.
Texas’s 33rd (Rep. Marc Veasey – D) that includes parts of Dallas and Fort Worth and Florida’s 26th (Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell – D) in far South Florida have close to 18,000 residential construction workers. Colorado’s 3rd (Rep. Scott Tipton – R) that includes the cities of Grand Junction, Durango and Pueblo concludes the top ten list with close 17,500 residents working in home building.
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. Arizona’s 7th and Florida 19th register the top highest share of residential construction workers in the employed labor force, 5.5%. The 33rd District of Texas has similarly high share, 5.3%. Idaho’s 1st makes this list as well, with 5.1% of employed labor force working in home building. Three additional districts from Florida register the shares of 5% or higher – Florida’s 17th, 11th, and 25th.
At the other end of the spectrum there are several districts that contain parts of large urban areas: the District of Columbia (Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton – D), the 12th of New York (Rep. Carolyn Maloney – D), located in New York City, Illinois’s 7th (Rep. Danny K. Davis – D) that includes downtown Chicago and Pennsylvania’s 2nd (Rep. Brendan Boyle – D) that includes areas of the city of Philadelphia. Most residents in these urban districts tend to work in professional, scientific, and technical services. The District of Columbia stands out for having the lowest number of RC workers residing in the district, around 2,000. At the same time, it has a disproportionally large share of public administration workers. The 12th District of New York and the 7th District of Illinois are home to a very large group of finance and insurance workers. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania’s 2nd, more than a third of residents work in health care and educational services.
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.
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