Construction and real estate jobs, earnings recently declined, report shows

Wisconsin’s construction and real estate industries make up 15 percent of both the state’s GDP and total jobs, but those impacts have recently declined, according to the latest report from the Wisconsin Realtors Association. 

The report shows 15.8 percent of the state’s GDP is directly attributable to real estate and construction. And these industries support 380,000 jobs, or 15.4 percent of all jobs in the state. 

Tom Larson, the association’s senior vice president of legal and public affairs, says these jobs are a “dramatic part” of the state’s growing economy. But he notes a “disconcerting” trend in the report, as both earnings and employment for construction and real estate have declined since 2001. 

Report authors wrote that “Wisconsin is not keeping pace with the nation in providing the housing and commercial buildings necessary to shelter its residents and create productive commercial properties for business and economic growth.” 

Between 2001 and 2017, these industries declined from 16.3 percent of state GDP to 15.1 percent. At the same time, employment as a share of total state employment fell from 16.5 percent to 15.4 percent. 

Still, construction and real estate services are supporting growth in personal earnings, the report shows. 

Between 2001 and 2017, these industries supported personal earnings growth of $5.7 billion, increasing 40 percent from $11.9 billion to $17.6 billion. For 2017, that accounted for 15.1 percent of private earnings in the state. 

The report also includes a breakdown for these industries’ impact on GDP. Real estate and leasing contribute 11.8 percent to the GDP, while construction contributes 4 percent. That combined impact of 15.8 percent is second only to manufacturing, which contributes 18.6 percent.

One important piece of the industries represented in the report is residential construction, one element for supporting the state’s workforce. It also highlights nonresidential construction as a parallel. 

The report shows total earnings for residential construction decreased from 5.5 percent in 2001, to 4.8 percent in 2017 as a percentage of the state economy. Meanwhile, residential construction employment saw a similar contraction.

For nonresidential construction, employment generally decreased over the same period while earnings are also down. 

The report shows the direct impact of construction and real estate on employment in Wisconsin is 2.1 percent lower than for the entire United States. 

And it shows the difference between real estate and construction employment in Wisconsin and the United States is growing over time. As it stands, the direct contribution by these industries to U.S. employment is 9.6 percent, compared to 7.6 percent for Wisconsin. 

See the full report here: