Projections by the Idaho Department of Labor indicate construction employment will grow 44 percent from 2012 to 2022, the fourth largest projected growth of any industry in Idaho and 28 percentage points above the projected growth for all industries. During that time, construction is expected to add 3,000 jobs and employ 10,000 people by 2022.
Through the early 2000s, construction was booming throughout the United States. As real estate became the golden investment with an A+ rating and home mortgages available at an all-time high, construction crews could not build houses fast enough. With some hard work and a little bit of luck, a young person straight out of high school could quickly make the kind of money typically associated with a four-year degree. As a result, laborers flooded to the market.
From 2000 to 2007, Idaho employment in the industry exploded, jumping 65 percent to dramatically outpace Idaho’s total employment growth of 19 percent. As banks continued to hand out mortgages to people who could not afford them, the housing market became saturated with available homes and the housing boom quickly turned into a bubble that popped as the first foreclosures hit the market toward the end of 2007, sending the economy into the deepest and longest recession the nation had seen since the Great Depression.
When real estate soured and the housing market dried up, construction jobs dried up with it.
The last 10 years were quite a ride for the nation’s construction industry. Employment grew 13 percent nationally between 2003 and 2007 – Idaho experienced 41 percent growth. There is no doubt that Idaho’s tremendous population growth fueled the increased demand for housing.
Idaho’s population grew 10.4 percent between 2003 and 2007 while the nation only grew 3.8 percent. When ratios of construction employment to population are compared for each year, Idaho had – and still has – a higher concentration of construction jobs than the nation.
National trends show positive job growth, and the job picture is improving in Idaho as well. But construction employment continues to lag. In 2012 Idaho’s construction employment was just 34 jobs higher than 2011 – and that was the annual first increase since 2007.
After an unremarkable 2003, Idaho’s construction employment started to boom in 2004. That year more than half of Idaho’s construction job growth was in excess of what national job trends generally or in construction would have indicated. More than 1,800 jobs were created above the 1,342 jobs that national trends would explain.
In 2005 national trends would have added 2,034 jobs in Idaho’s construction industry. But Idaho actually added 3,250, and the gap would only increase. National trends would explain 2,067 new jobs in 2006 but Idaho added 6,961. Seventy percent of the total increase was unique to Idaho.