According to the latest 2019 ACS, over 11 million people, including self-employed workers, worked in construction in 2019. NAHB Economics estimates that out of this total, 4.4 million people worked in residential construction, accounting for 2.8% of the US employed civilian labor force. Home building in Florida, Vermont and multiple states in the Mountain Division stand out for generating a significantly higher share of jobs. NAHB’s analysis also identifies congressional districts where home building accounts for particularly high employment levels and share of local jobs. In 2020, despite the widespread curtailment of economic activity due to Covid-19, home building created additional jobs as the rest of the economy struggled.
Not surprisingly, the most populous state—California—also has the most residential construction workers. Close to 640,000 California residents worked in home building in 2019, accounting for over 3.3% of the state employed labor force.
Florida comes in second with over 430,000 residential construction workers. Florida has fewer residents than Texas 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 4.3% of the employed labor. Even though this share is well above the national average (2.8%), 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 2019. Idaho with 5.2% of the employed labor force working in home building takes the top spot on the list. Utah and Florida follow with 4.4% and 4.3%, respectively. Vermont and Montana also register shares in excess of 4%. In addition, ten other states register shares of residential construction workers that exceed 3%: Maine (3.6%), Nevada (3.5%), Washington (3.5%), Colorado (3.5%), New Hampshire (3.4%), Arizona (3.4%), North Carolina (3.4%), California (3.3%), Oregon (3.1%) and Delaware (3.1%).
As of 2019, the average congressional district has about 10,000 residents working in residential construction but that number is often significantly higher. In Idaho’s 1st (Rep. Russ Fulcher – R), 24,000 residents are in home building. Florida’s 25th (Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart – R) that stretches from west of Miami to east of Naples and Marco Island and Arizona’s 7th (Rep. Ruben Gallego – D) that includes much of inner Phoenix and comprises the western part of the state are close second and third with about 22,000 residents employed in home building. Utah’s 4th (Rep. Burgess Owens – R) and Montana’s single Congressional district (Rep. Matt Rosendale – R) have over 21,000 residents working in home building. Next on the list are three congressional districts in Florida and Idaho’s 2nd (Rep. Mike Simpson- R) with about 20,000 residents working in home building. Florida’s 19 (Rep. Byron Donalds– R) and Florida’s 21st (Rep. Lois Frankel – D) are in the south and Florida’s 14th (Rep. Kathy Castor – D) serves most of Tampa. California’s 41st (Rep. Mark Takano – D) in western Riverside and 29th (Rep. Tony Cárdenas – D) in the north central San Fernando Valley and Florida’s 10th (Rep. Val Demings – D) in Orange County conclude the top dozen list with close to 19,000 residential construction workers.
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. Three districts in Florida (Florida’s 19th, 17th, and 25th) register the highest shares of residential construction workers in the employed labor force, 6%, 5.8% and 5.7%, respectively, by far exceeding the national average of 2.8%. The other congressional districts on the top 10 list all register the shares of residential construction workers in excess of 5%. These include Arizona’s 7th, Idaho’s 2nd, Texas’s 33rd and 29th, Florida’s 21st, and California’s 41st and 29th.
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), Pennsylvania’s 3rd (Rep. Dwight Evans – D) that includes areas of the city of Philadelphia, Georgia’s 5th (Rep. Nikema Williams – D) that includes most of Atlanta, the 12th of New York (Rep. Carolyn Maloney – D), located in New York City, and among others, Louisiana’s 2nd (currently vacant) that contains New Orleans. 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 1,500. 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.