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Report: Homebuilding Employment Unlikely to Return to Boom Levels

While ""Fannie Mae's"":http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html Economic and Strategic Research (ESR) Group believes homebuilding activity will bounce back to normal by 2016, employment in residential construction may not recover as well.

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In the latest in its _Transition to ""Normal""_ series, the ESR group examines the residential construction sector, which lost 41 percent of jobs between 2006 and 2011 due to the housing bust. Even though housing starts are expected to double over the next four years as the recovery brings us back to even keel, the group is doubtful that employment in the industry will see the same rebound.

If housing starts do indeed return to normal levels in 2016, residential construction employment is predicted to rise to nearly 2.5 million jobs, an increase of 412,000 over current levels. Despite that gain, homebuilding employment is forecast to remain nearly 1 million less than it was at the peak of the housing boom.

""Full recovery is unlikely in the near term because residential construction employment exceeded levels needed to meet fundamental housing demand growth by roughly 1.6 million jobs at the top of the housing bubble,"" the group explains in its report. ""The number of homebuilding jobs is now better aligned with fundamental demand, setting the stage for sustained gains in homebuilding employment.

""However, even with renewed job growth, many residential construction workers who were employed at the peak of the boom and displaced during the downturn are unlikely to regain employment in their former trade and might need assistance in transitioning to work in other sectors of the economy,"" the researchers continue.

Even with the housing construction recovery providing lift to the residential sector and the broader economy (helping home sales, mortgage lending, home furnishings sales, and manufacturing), the number of former builders unable to return to construction might prove to be a drag on economic growth, the report concludes.

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