You’re not imagining it: jobs in single-family home building truly have vanished in this recession.
According to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, the country lost 182,000 jobs—or 39.1% from the 2005 level of 464,000 employees--at single-family home building firms between the 2005 boom and 2007, which is the most recent information available. That decline far outstrips the figures for overall residential building, which reduced the number of paid employees by just 1.5% or the larger construction industry, which actually reported a 7.2% gain between 2005 and 2007, to 7.3 million employees.
It wasn’t just cost-cutting. The number of single-family home building establishments also dropped significantly in that same period, falling 44.9% to 62,000, suggesting that companies and offices were closing their doors as well.
These statistics apply only to single-family home building firms, not the specialty trade contractors who handle work such as plumbing, flooring, siding, and more on a subcontractor basis for builders.
On a regional basis, the states that gained the most from the housing boom are also the ones who are suffering in the bust. The number of single-family housing jobs dropped an average of 44% among the four former powerhouse housing states of California, Arizona, Florida, and Nevada, for a total of 55,000 positions lost. California alone saw 30,000 single-family home building positions vanish, translating into a 44.3% reduction in such employment.
Business trends in these four housing states also followed the national trends. In terms of businesses, California reported the greatest declines in numbers and percentage decrease, losing 5,700, or 49.2%, of its single-family construction establishments.
Alison Rice is senior editor, online, at BUILDER magazine.
Then and Now: The Disappearance of Single-Family Construction Jobs
Total construction paid employees: 6.8 million (2005) vs. 7.3 million (2007)
Total single-family residential paid employees: 464,000 (2005) vs. 283,000 (2007)
Total single-family construction establishments: 112,000 (2005) vs. 62,000 (2007)
Housing States: Single-Family Construction Paid Employees
Arizona: 17,000 (2005) vs. 9,400 (2007)
California: 67,000 (2005) vs. 37,000 (2007)
Florida: 38,000 (2005) vs. 22,000 (2007)
Nevada: 6,000 (2005) vs. 3,300 (2007)
Housing States: Single-Family Construction Establishments
Arizona: 2,400 (2005) vs. 1,500 (2007)
California: 11,600 (2005) vs. 5,900 (2007)
Florida: 7,300 (2005) vs. 4,000 (2007)
Nevada: 700 (2005) vs. 370 (2007)
Source: U.S. Census Bureau