I think we can all agree whether you are a housing bull, bear or giraffe that jobs and wage growth are primary factors to a healthy housing market. This has become quite the hot topic amongst the bulls and bears with various facts and myths that have been slung around. One fact is that much of the job growth in the last several years has been in the RE industry. Lansner over at the OC Register has mentioned this several times and has noted that in the last four years RE accounted for 52% of the job growth. It is also a fact that other jobs have been created but at a very weak rate. Does this seem like a healthy job market when real estate sales are down 40% from the peak, mortgage companies are going BK or laying people off every quarter and homebuilders are slashing staff to bare bone levels just to function? Well let’s take a look at what I have found and you can make your own judgment.
I used the data from the EDD which gets their data from the BLS. The best info I can find on the actual jobs numbers are from this spreadsheet from the EDD. I have my own spreadsheet that uses the same data. I added the employment numbers and rates that are missing from the EDD spreadsheet and I have done several various calculations. I know it is not as organized or as pretty as some of Irvinerenter’s but the data is there. For RE related jobs I use construction, credit intermediation and related activities, real estate and architectural, engineering and related services. These categories compiled together are what I like to call the RE jobs and will known as such from here.
A Little History and Some Averages
Historically RE jobs have accounted for an average of 11.5% of the total non-farm jobs in OC since 1990 to 2006.
In 1990 the average was 11.5% and did not reach that high again until 2001. In between that time the average was 10.6%.
In 2006 the percentage of RE jobs accounted for 14.2% of the non-farm jobs for a new all time high.
The reason why this is an important way to look at RE jobs and why the percentage matters is the RE industry is a need based employment sector. So in other words when jobs other than RE are being created the RE jobs would increase in number but not as a percentage. RE jobs need other jobs to be created or they would not increase and they definitely should not increase as a percentage.
From 2000 to 2006 131,200 total non-farm jobs were created and 62,400 of those jobs were RE related accounting for 47.6% of the job growth.
It doesn’t make much sense when only 68,800 non-RE related jobs were created that OC would need to have that much RE jobs growth. Considering that from 2000 to 2006 non-RE related jobs grew by an amazing 5.3% and RE related jobs increased by 29%.
This clearly paints a picture that OC has been very dependent upon RE job growth in the last six years. That dependence on sector that is a need based industry when the need was self fed poses a serious risk to the overall employment in OC.
The Aerospace Myth
The typical bull mantra about the 90s was that the aerospace industry killed the housing market. This is a serious error when the numbers are not there. Manufacturing jobs which include aerospace did have a significant decline but it wouldn’t call for such a steep decline in the RE related jobs or a decline in the housing market.
Between 1990 and 1993 OC had lost a cumulative total of 57,000 non-farm jobs and in 1994 only had lost a cumulative total of 45,600 non-farm jobs.
Between 1990 and 1994 aerospace had lost a cumulative total of 7000 jobs accounting for only 15.4% of the non-farm job losses.
Between 1990 and 1994 manufacturing had lost a cumulative total of 37,300 jobs accounting for 82% of the non-farm job losses.
Between 1990 and 1994 RE had lost a cumulative total of 20,500 jobs accounting for 45% of the non-farm job losses.
As can be seen in those numbers RE and manufacturing accounted for more than the cumulative total non-farm job losses. That means that other sectors were creating jobs which would create a need for RE related jobs. This didn’t start to happen. The reason had more to do with housing prices and buyer psychology.
The Wage Growth Myth
The bulls all say that wages are up and people are making more money than ever. This couldn’t be further from the truth when you exclude RE related jobs. I actually believed that this mythical statement might have been true. I was disturbed that when you break it down the way that I have that it shows a loss. I had to use data from 2000 to 2005 because the annual data for 2006 is not available yet.
Between 2000 and 2005 payroll wages grew by slightly over $14 billion.
Between 2000 and 2005 payroll wages for RE grew by slightly over $6.6 billion accounting for 47% of the growth.
Between 2000 and 2005 payroll wages for non-RE related jobs grew by slightly over $7.4 billion accounting for 53% of the growth.
When you break down how many non-RE related jobs there were in 2000 compared to 2005 there were 48,600 more jobs. So what you have to do is take the annual payroll and divide it on a per job basis. After adjusting for California’s inflation rate of 15.9% between 2000 and 2005 non-RE related payroll wages shrank by -$662 million in that time.
Using the same break down RE related payroll wages soared by nearly $2.1 billion. This adds for more evidence that the industry was self feeding itself and how much OC was dependent upon the industry for growth. With sales down nearly 40% since 2005 it will be interesting to see this stat in the next few years.
The Overwhelming Evidence
I may be a housing bear but these are the numbers and the numbers do not lie. It can be said that a liar can lie about the numbers but that is why I provided my own spreadsheet for anyone to check the numbers. The proof is OC has had very poor job growth when excluding RE related jobs. What is even worse is wage growth has actually been negative when excluding RE related jobs. So how or why have we had such a huge run up in the prices of homes? It makes absolutely no sense what so ever and anyone who tells you that wages have been growing is lying.
The other troubling statistic is with all the layoffs and overall slow down is where will these people find jobs? The response you will hear from the bulls is they will find a new job or return to the industry they came from before. Some of the more educated and talented in the RE industry will either stay in the business or find another industry. However the majority will have difficulty finding a career that pays as well. The RE industry is more than just sales agents and loan brokers but underwriters and escrow officers. Many of the other jobs have paid well and required very little training or education. The jobs currently being created are in professional and technical services, medical services and education. These categories require higher education and unless the person who is no longer in the RE industry had this education from before they will have to get it now. This will either take job seekers out of the market to get the education needed or they will have accept lower paying jobs or be unemployed.
Now do you see a problem or is it sunny today?