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Home >> News & Events >> Size of the Construction Industry
Size of the Construction Industry

Author:EPA  From:  Date:1/4/2014


The amount of C&D materials that are generated and subsequently managed in the U.S. is dependent on the amount of activity that takes place in the entire construction, demolition, renovation, and maintenance industry. Construction is a vital sector of the economy, directly or indirectly, providing jobs and income to a large population in the U.S. Americans look to the construction industry to meet the demands of a growing population and economy. As such, federal agencies, such as the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB), regularly track the construction industry as an indicator of the economy. The construction industry is very large, yet dominated by very small businesses. For example, according to USCB data, there were 710,000 construction establishments in 2002 with 7.2 million employees, with an average employment of ten employees per establishment. In 2002, 90 percent of construction establishments had fewer than 20 employees, while only one percent of construction establishments had 100 employees or more (2005a). The USCB uses construction spending, new home sales, and housing starts as one set of indicators of the health of the U.S. economy. The construction industry boomed during the late 1990s and into the early 2000s. Figure 1-1 shows the amount of growth in spending during that time. EPA published an estimate (in 1998) of the amount of building-related C&D materials generated in the U.S. during 1996. The estimate presented in the current report is for the amount of building-related C&D materials generated in the U.S. during 2003. Between these years, the amount of money spent on construction (for all structures, including buildings, roads, bridges,etc.) in the U.S. increased by approximately 50%, from an estimated $620 billion in 1996 to an estimated $930 billion in 2003. These costs do not have a direct relationship with materials consumption as they may include inflation, profit, and other costs. They can be used as an indicator of construction activity, however. The USCB does not break down these amounts by structure type (building vs. non-building), but does break the amounts down by use category. Those categories (as described by the USCB) that were assumed to primarily consist of building construction were aggregated for this report2. The USCB, however, did not break down public construction by use category until 2002, thus only private building construction spending is shown in Figure 1-1. Between 1996 and 2003, private building construction spending increased 32%. During that same time, the population of the U.S. only increased 8%.



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