The most recent and comprehensive estimates of home building employment by state and congressional district reveals that California is the state with the most residential construction workers. Idaho's 1st congressional district (Rep. Russ Fulcher – R), which comprises much of the western part of the state, leads the nation with 24,000 residents engaged in home building.
According to the latest American Community Survey, more than 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 U.S. 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 because of COVID-19, home building created additional jobs as the rest of the economy struggled.
Golden State is the Pacesetter
As noted above, 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 more than 3.3% of the state employed labor force.
Florida comes in second with more than 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 (6.5%) among all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Other states with a high prevalence of seasonal vacation homes topped 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 registered shares in excess of 4%.
In addition, 10 other states posted shares of residential construction workers that exceeded 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%).
Congressional Districts Average 10K Construction Workers
Congressional district estimates are particularly useful to highlight the importance of home building to the voting constituency residing in the district. As of 2019, the average congressional district had about 10,000 residents working in residential construction, but that number can be significantly higher, as illustrated by the 24,000 workers in Idaho's 1st congressional district.
Florida's 25th (Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart – R), which stretches from west of Miami to east of Naples and Marco Island, and Arizona's 7th (Rep. Ruben Gallego – D), which includes much of inner Phoenix and comprises the western part of the state, are a 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 more than 21,000 residents working in home building. In percentage terms, three districts in Florida – the 19th (Rep. Byron Donalds – R), 17th (Rep. Greg Steube – R) and 25th register the highest shares of residential construction workers in the employed labor force at 6%, 5.8% and 5.7%, respectively. This far exceeds the national average of 2.8%.
The new NAHB home building employment estimates only comprise workers directly employed by the industry (including self-employed workers) 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.
NAHB economist Natalia Siniavskaia provides further analysis in this Eye on Housing blog post.