Recognize Housing’s Important Role to the Economy

As policymakers begin debate on housing finance and budget issues that will impact job creation and future growth, they must understand the important role that housing plays in the U.S. economy. Considering the enormity of the total number of jobs attached to housing, a sector that normally accounts for more than 17 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, now is hardly the time to step back from the nation’s long-standing commitment to homeownership.

Building 100 average single-family homes generates more than 300 jobs and nearly $9 million in taxes and revenue for state, local and federal governments that supports local schools and communities across the land. Perhaps more than any other consumer product, housing is “Made in America.” New homes and apartments don’t arrive in this country on container ships from Europe or Asia, and most of the products used in home construction and remodeling are manufactured here in the United States.

More than 1.3 million residential construction jobs have been lost since April 2006. The pace of recovery is debatable, but based purely on population growth and demographics, the U.S. will need to build 17 million additional homes over the next decade.

The gap between current production and potential housing production is about 800,000 homes. That represents more than
2.4 million untapped American jobs. This gap is a result of multiple factors, including deferred household formations, a lack of construction financing and flawed appraisal practices under which new homes get compared to distressed and foreclosed properties, thereby distorting true market values.

There can be no economic recovery without a housing recovery. The path forward is perfectly clear: Congress needs to take actions to restore the health of the housing industry to put America back to work.

This is a sentiment shared by American voters as well. An NAHB survey of  2012 voters conducted last year by Public Opinion Strategies and Lake Research Partners found that despite the ups and downs of the housing market, home owners and non-owners alike consider owning a home essential to the American Dream and support politicians who embrace pro-housing policies and the mortgage interest deduction.

An overwhelming 74 percent of the respondents said that owning a home is worth the risk of the fluctuations in the market and 68 percent of those who do not own a home say it is a goal of theirs to eventually buy one. Equally telling, more than seven out of 10 of all Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree that tax incentives to promote homeownership are reasonable and two-thirds of the survey respondents believe the federal government should play a role to ensure that 30-year home loans remain readily available and affordable.

The NAHB poll is consistent with a New York Times/CBS News survey that reveals more than nine out of 10 Americans oppose eliminating the mortgage interest deduction; a recent Harris Interactive survey that shows more than four out of five renters desire to be home owners; and a poll released last May by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, which found that voters also placed a very high importance on homeownership.

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Housing’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product