Building and construction, as an industry, is responsible for the hands-on execution of building plans that result in such things as houses, schools, hospitals, roads, and bridges—involvement in this process ranges from building and site maintenance to adding modifications and overseeing additions. Because so much of the industry is contingent upon the ups and downs of businesses and their needs, changes in the economy and global market have strong influences on building and construction. Changes in regulations and government funding can also have a profound effect on the industry.
As one of the largest industries in the nation, construction also offers consistent job growth. In 2006, around 7.7 million construction jobs were wage or salary paid, and around 1.9 million workers were self employed. Approximately 65 percent of all construction establishments are run by 5 or fewer employees. Of the 7.7 million construction jobs, approximately 13.2 percent were involved in building residential building, and 10.3 were involved in building nonresidential structures.
The two other branches of the industry, heavy and civil engineering construction and specialty trade contractors, accounted for 12.8 percent and 63.7 percent of the total number of jobs in 2006. Of the 12.8 percent of jobs in heavy and civil engineering construction, most of the jobs were split relatively evenly between utility system construction (5.5 percent) and highway, street, and bridge construction (4.5 percent). Land subdivision and other heavy and civil engineering construction employed the remaining 1.3 and 1.5 percent of the sector.
In terms of specialty trade contractor jobs, the largest sector of the industry, the majority of the jobs (26.1 percent) were in the building equipment contractors category. Another 14.7 percent of the jobs were found in foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors, while another 13.5 percent were building finishing contractors. 9.4 percent were other specialty trade contractors.
Of the 1.9 million self employed workers, the majority, 56.3 percent, worked primarily as construction managers, though carpe, floor and tile installation jobs were a close second at 42.4 percent, and painters and paperhangers third at 42.1 percent. Job locations for both salaried and self-employed workers in the industry tended to match population distribution the U.S. for 2006.