Construction, with 6.7 million wage and salary jobs and 1.6 million self-employed and unpaid family nongovernment jobs in 2002, was one of the Nation’s largest industries.
Almost 2 out of 3 wage and salary jobs were with specialty trade contractors, primarily plumbing, electrical, and masonry contractors. Around 1 out of 4 jobs were with building contractors, mostly in residential and nonresidential construction. The rest were with heavy and civil engineering construction contractors. Employment in this industry is distributed geographically in much the same way as the Nation’s population; the concentration of employment is generally in industrialized and heavily populated areas.
There were about 792,000 construction companies in the United States in 2002: 237,000 were building construction contractors; 60,000 were heavy and civil engineering construction or highway contractors; and 496,000 were specialty trade contractors. Most of these establishments tend to be small, the majority employing fewer than 10 workers. About 4 out of 5 workers are employed by small contractors.
Construction offers more opportunities than most other industries for individuals who want to own and run their own business. The 1.6 million self-employed and unpaid family workers in 2002 performed work directly for property owners or acted as contractors on small jobs, such as additions, remodeling, and maintenance projects. The rate of self-employment varies greatly by individual occupation in the construction trades.