24 Insightful Construction Statistics

2020 was a challenging year for the construction industry. COVID-19 led to project delays as shelter-in-place orders began barring or restricting building activities. Even as the situation seemed to calm, resurgences made progress difficult to achieve.

However, many industry experts are optimistic about 2021. While the situation is still fluid, a recovery is certainly possible.

If you want to take a closer look at the construction industry, here are 24 insightful construction statistics worth checking out.

1. The United States Construction Industry Added $900+ Billion to the United States Economy in Q1 2020

During the first quarter of 2020, the construction industry in the United States added over $900 billion to the economy. That was the highest amount since the recession in 2008.

[Source: Deloitte]

2. When COVID-19 Hit, the Construction Industry Lost $60.9 Billion in GDP

The impact of COVID-19 was stark for the construction industry. Overall, an estimated $60.9 billion in GDP was lost. Partially, this was the result of companies having to cease operations or alter course during the pandemic. Additionally, financial woes led to some project cancelations.

[Source: Deloitte]

3. 6.5 Million Construction Jobs Were Lost When COVID-19 Struck

When construction operations slowed due to the pandemic, an estimated 6.5 million construction professionals lost their jobs. Overall, this single incident wiped out four years of job gains in the sector.

[Source: Deloitte]

4. Commercial Construction Revenue Fell 2.1% in 2020 Due to COVID-19

While COVID-19 had a major impact on construction, with many commercial projects put on hold during Q1 and Q2 2020 due to the pandemic. Overall, the commercial construction industry has seen revenue fall by around 2.1%, even as the market came back to life in Q3 and Q4.

[Source: IBIS World]

5. The Construction Industry Is a $2 Trillion Market in the United States

Overall, the construction industry market size in the United States is about $2 trillion, making it one of the top industries in the U.S.

[Source: IBIS World]

6. The Construction Industry Makes Up 4.1% of the United States’ GDP

As of 2019, the construction industry represented 4.1% of the United State’s gross domestic product (GDP). The construction market in the United States is also one of the largest in the entire world.

[Source: Statista]

7. One-Fifth of All United States Construction Takes Place in Just 5 Metropolitan Markets

Overall, about 20% of all of the Construction in the United States is taking place in just five metropolitan markets. Those markets include the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.), Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York City.

Additionally, approximately 50% of all construction will occur in just 20 metropolitan markets, showing just how concentrated the bulk of the industry can be.

[Source: FMI]

8. New York City Is the Most Expensive United States City to Build In

In the United States, New York City is the most expensive place for construction. In Fact, cost levels in Houston are about half of what you see in NYC, showing just how dramatic the difference can be depending on where a construction project occurs.

As for other expensive cities to build in, San Francisco and Boston come in second and third, respectively. Rounding out the top five are Philadelphia in fourth and Seattle in fifth.

[Source: Arcadis]

9. 42.6% of Construction Firms Are Experimenting with Drone Technology

As of 2019, 42.6% of construction firms were exploring the value of drone technology when it comes to their building projects. That’s a 5% increase over the year prior.

[Source: JBKnowledge]

10. There Are More Than 3 Million Construction Businesses in the United States

The United States is home to approximately 3.35 million construction businesses. Overall, those businesses employ around 9.4 million people.

[Source: IBIS World]

11. In 2019, There Were 1.29 Million New Privately-Owned Housing Unit Starts

New home construction is typically a big part of the construction industry. In 2019, there were 1.29 million new private housing units starting construction.

[Source: JBKnowledge]

12. The United States has 11.2 Million Construction Employees

Overall, the United States has approximately 11.2 million construction employees. The category includes a wide variety of professionals, as it takes several kinds of skilled trades and professionals to plan, erect, and finish different kinds of structures.

[Source: Statista]

13. Only 10.3% of Construction Workers Are Female

As of 2019, only about one-in-10 construction workers are female. Females make up 10.3% of construction workers, while males are the remaining 89.7 percent.

Now, this does mark a small year-over-year increase for women. In 2018, just 9.9% of construction workers were women, while 90.1% were men.

[Source: Statista]

14. 90% of Construction Contractors Are Worried About Labor Shortages

A labor shortage has been plaguing the construction industry for years. Many younger adults don’t view skilled trades as solid careers, causing them to forgo this option in favor of other professions. As a result, 90% of construction contractors are worried about labor shortages, and 47% expect trouble in finding skilled workers to get worse over time.

[Source: United States Chamber of Commerce]

15. More Than Half of Construction Contractors Go Green

Over the past few years, interest in green building has been on the rise. Fifty-six percent of construction contractors have registered their building projects with either the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) or United States Green Building Council. That means their projects met the “green” standards set by certifying or approving the organization.

[Source: United States Chamber of Commerce]

16. The Average Hourly Pay Rate for All Construction Employees is $31.94/Hour

On average, construction employees earn $31.94 per hour. With the average number of hours worked a week coming in at 38.9, that means the average construction employee has an annual salary of approximately $64,608.

[Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics]

17. Union Construction Workers Out Earn Nonunion Construction Workers by More Than $370 a Week

Union membership often results in higher wages. Nonunion workers have median weekly earnings of about $868 a year. Union members and workers represented by unions make $1,257 and $1,240, respectively. This means that nonunion workers bring home $372 to $389 less than their union-associated counterparts each week.

Over the course of a year, nonunion construction employees may earn $19,344 to $20,228 less than those who are represented by or a member of a union.

[Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics]

18. Labor Costs Represent Up to 50% of a Construction Project’s Total Cost

While some may assume that the cost of materials, permits, and similar items make up the bulk of a construction project’s cost, that isn’t universally true. Overall, labor costs account for 20 to 50% of the total cost, depending on the nature of the project

[Source: FMI]

19. 90% of Global Infrastructure Building Projects Are Either Behind Schedule or Over Budget

When it comes to global infrastructure construction projects, it seems little goes to plan. Approximately 90% of such projects end up either behind schedule or over budget.

[Source: Economist]

20. Construction Industry Revenue in the United States Is Expected to Decline by 6.3% Due to COVID-19

COVID-19 shook the construction industry, particularly as many shelter-in-place orders during the early days of the pandemic heavily restricted, if not outright banned, construction project-related activities. As a result, the pandemic is expected to lead to a 6.3% revenue decline in 2020.

[Source: IBIS World, Statista]

21. Large Construction Projects Are Typically Up to 80% Over Budget

Across all asset classes (infrastructure, mining, and oil and gas), large construction projects are commonly up to 80% over budget once they are complete.

[Source: McKinsey Global Institute]

22. Large Construction Projects Take Approximately 20% Longer to Complete Than Initially Projected

Not only are large construction projects frequently over budget, they usually miss completion deadlines, too. Overall, they typically take 20% longer to wrap up than initially planned.

[Source: McKinsey Global Institute]

23. 98% of Megaprojects Are Late, Over Budget, or Both

The larger the project, the harder it can be to estimate the associated cost and required time for completion. As a result, 98% of megaprojects are behind schedule, over budget, or both.

[Source: McKinsey Global Institute]

24. The Modular Construction Market May Hit $157 Billion by 2023

After taking a hit following the 2008 recession, modular construction has been on the rise. One estimate suggests that the market may reach $157 billion by 2023.

[Source: Motley Fool’s Mission Acres]

Bottom Line

Ultimately, 2020 was challenging for the construction industry. COVID-19 led to significant financial losses, widespread job losses, and more. However, as with the 2008 recession, the odds are good that the sector will recover.

Many of the construction statistics above show the troubles the industry experienced. Others showcase unique facts about the sector, including its composition and overall scale. In the end, only time will tell if the industry will bounce back quickly or slowly. After all, some concerns, like labor shortages, have been long-standing. Without greater interest in the industry by young adults or advancing technology that can limit the need for skilled labor, the sector’s growth potential may be stymied.

Still, construction is and will remain a major industry in the United States, as well as around the world. The need for new or improved structures is near-constant, ensuring a degree of longevity for the sector at-large.