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May 2021

Washington among states with strong employment in home building

May 5, 2021

Washington is among 15 states with the highest share of residential construction workers, according to NAHB Economics, an arm of the National Association of Home Builders.

Using data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS), researchers estimate 4.4 million people work in residential construction. That accounts for 2.8% of the US employed civilian labor force.

The NAHB findings, released last month, are based on 2019 statistics, the latest available. The builders' group noted in 2020, home building created additional jobs even though many sectors of the economy struggled due to COVID-19.

California claims the highest number of workers in home building with close to 640,000. On a percentage basis, that amounts to more than 3.3% of its employed labor force. Idaho had the highest share of residential construction workers at 5.2%, due in part to a high prevalence of seasonal, vacation homes.

Washington surpassed the national average (2.8%) with an estimated 3.5% of its labor force employed in home building.

NAHB's analysis of data by congressional district indicated the average district had about 10,000 residents working in residential construction in 2019. In Idaho's 1st congressional district, which covers the western part of the state, some 24,000 residents work in home building.

Other areas where home building is credited with particularly high employment levels and share of local jobs include Florida's 25th congressional district, Arizona's 7th district, Utah's 4th, and Montana's single district. All these areas reported at least 21,000 residents work in residential construction.

NAHB's residential construction employment estimates include self-employed workers, which that trade group says is particularly relevant in the home building industry since they traditionally make up a larger share of the labor force.

The NAHB report notes the home building employment estimates only include workers directly employed by the industry. Not counted are jobs created in related industries such as design and architecture, furniture making, building materials, landscaping, and others. Consequently, NAHB says the estimates understate the overall impact of home building on local employment.