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Survey: Labor Force for Residential Construction is 3.5 Million Strong

About 8.9 million people worked in construction in 2013, according to the most recent American Community Survey (ACS) released today by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). According to the NAHB and estimated 3.5 million people worked in residential construction, accounting for 2.4 percent of the employed civilian labor force in the U.S. These numbers show modest job gains since 2011 when construction employment bottomed out. construction-twoEmployment level within the industry still remain lower than in the housing boom, when more than 11 million people 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.

California had 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 came in second with 295,000 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 at 6.2 percent.

Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico are still slow to show job increases after being hit hard by the housing crisis. Nevada has a job loss of 57.3 percent, Arizona is 51.5 percent, and New Mexico sits at 49.7 percent in job losses. Despite these significant job losses, home building in Nevada and Arizona continues to employ a relatively high share of local workers, with 2.9 in Nevada and 2.5 percent in Arizona of the employed civilian labor force.

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, Montana, Maine, Utah, and New Hampshire are next on the list.

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.

Idaho’s 1st district comes second with more than 15,000 employed in home building. Texas’ 29th District that serves the eastern part of the Greater Houston area is a close third with just under 15,000 residential construction workers residing there. New York’s 1st district concludes the top ten list with more than 13,000 home building workers residing there.

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 residential construction workers in their district employed labor forces. The 29th District of Texas has the highest share of residential construction workers in its employed labor force at 4.8 percent. Florida’s 18th and 19th Districts are close behind with 4.7 and 4.5 percent.

About Author: Samantha Guzman

Samantha Guzman is an award-winning visual journalist and graduate of the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism. She specializes in visual storytelling and has skills in video, audio and photography, in addition to news writing. She has traveled to Mexico and Bosnia as an assistant for multiple multimedia projects and taught news writing, photojournalism, and narrative storytelling in the past.
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