As another year draws to a close, I think it's important to reflect for a moment on housing's vital role in American life and on our contributions as members of the industry that provides the nation's housing.

Builders lead the way

To understand the magnitude of housing's contribution to American life, you have only to look at the record of the past few years. With the U.S. economy stumbling and most sectors performing poorly, housing was front and center, leading the way to recovery and even setting new records. There's no question that without the strength of the housing market the recession would have been much deeper and the recovery much more painful. Now, as we start to see other sectors rebound and move forward, it's important to remember that housing accounts for a significant portion--currently 15 percent--of gross domestic product. And it is also an essential constant in state and local economies as well, providing jobs and revenues with an impact that goes far beyond the initial construction.

For example, the construction of 1,000 single-family homes generates 2,448 jobs in construction and construction-related industries, approximately $79.4 million in wages, and more than $42.5 million in federal, state, and local tax revenues and fees. Construction of 1,000 multifamily homes generates 1,030 jobs in construction and related industries, approximately $33.5 million in wages, and more than $17.8 million in federal, state, and local tax revenues and fees.

Equally important, housing accounts for more than 30 percent of total household wealth in the United States, significantly more than any other type of asset, including pensions, mutual funds, and personal savings. In fact, total home equity in this country is now more than $7 trillion.

More than bricks and mortar

As important to the nation as homeownership and a diverse housing stock that offers a variety of choices to consumers are, the people who provide those single-family homes and apartments are equally crucial. As members of the housing industry, we don't just build structures that fulfill the basic need for shelter; we build the homes and communities that form the backbone of our great nation.

I'm always proud to show people the single-family homes, apartments, and communities that I and my company have built over the years. When I look at those houses and apartments I see more than just structures. I see strength, security, and young families taking their first steps down the road to a happy future. I see children for whom home is an anchor in an unsettled and unsettling world. I see generations of people who will live in those homes in the future and build fulfilling lives from within those walls.

We don't produce something that is disposable or becomes obsolete in a few weeks or even years. We build a permanent, enduring legacy, a legacy of which we can all be proud. Together, we build the American Dream.