By Natalia Siniavskaia on March 9, 2015
A new NAHB study presents the most comprehensive estimates of home building employment, including self-employed workers, by state and congressional district. NAHB Economics estimates that out of 8.9 million people working in construction in 2013, close to 3.5 million people worked in residential construction, accounting for 2.4 percent of the US employed civilian labor force.
These numbers reflect modest 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 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 2013 ACS, one out of four construction workers is self-employed, while an economy-wide average does not reach 10 percent of the employed labor force.
Not surprisingly, the most populous state—California—also has the most residential construction workers. Almost half a million California residents worked in home building in 2013, accounting for 2.9 percent of the state employed labor force.
Florida comes in second with 295 thousand residential construction workers. Florida has fewer residents than Texas and about as many as New York but employs more residential construction workers accounting for a relatively high 3.5 percent of the employed state labor. Even though this share is well above the national average, it is drastically lower than in 2005 when Florida registered the highest share among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 6.2 percent.
Among the states hardest hit by the housing downturn and slowest to restore home building jobs are Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico still showing job losses of 57.3, 51.5, and 49.7 percent, respectively. Despite these significant job losses, home building in Nevada and Arizona continues to employ a relatively high share of local workers – 2.9 and 2.5 percent 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. Idaho with almost 4 percent of the employed labor force working in home building takes the top spot on the list. Vermont (3.8 percent), Montana (3.3 percent), Maine (3.2 percent), Utah (3.2 percent), and New Hampshire (3.1 percent) are next on the list.
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 7,900 residents working in residential construction but that number is often significantly higher and actually exceeds 16,000 in Montana’s single Congressional district.