15 Metros Where Construction Workers Can’t Afford Homes

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Construction Coverage.

After slowing down at the beginning of the pandemic, the construction industry has bounced back, spurred on by the housing market boom.

Construction employment reached 7.7 million in August, surpassing pre-COVID-19 levels, and nearly matching peak construction employment in 2006. With the signing of President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, the long-term outlook for the construction industry is looking upbeat as well.

Although inflation has moderated slightly, it still is at elevated levels, however. The average weekly wage for full-time construction workers was $887 in April, after adjusting for inflation. This represents a 12% drop from October 2020 when real wages peaked at $1,012, according to Construction Coverage.

Increased demand for homes due to record-low mortgage rates, remote work, and stimulus payments coupled with low inventory have caused home prices to skyrocket. Rising home prices in many cities mean that the workers who build homes often cannot afford to buy them, assuming that workers spend no more than 30% of their income on housing.

To find the metropolitan areas where construction workers must work the longest hours to afford a home, researchers at Construction Coverage analyzed the latest data. Here are U.S. metropolitan areas where construction workers would have to work the longest hours to afford a home. A methodology section at the end has the sources for this data.

15. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN

Apartments in Nashville, Tennessee
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 70
  • Median hourly wage: $22.01
  • Median home price: $457,360
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $1,993
  • Overall homeownership rate: 65.6%

14. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ

Homes in Phoenix, Arizona
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 70
  • Median hourly wage: $23.02
  • Median home price: $478,985
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $2,088
  • Overall homeownership rate: 64.4%

13. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

House in Orlando, Florida
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 71
  • Median hourly wage: $18.82
  • Median home price: $399,709
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $1,742
  • Overall homeownership rate: 61.9%

12. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Downtown San Bernardino, California
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 71
  • Median hourly wage: $27.82
  • Median home price: $585,817
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $2,553
  • Overall homeownership rate: 64.1%

11. Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA

Homes in Sacramento, California
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 71
  • Median hourly wage: $29.23
  • Median home price: $615,712
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $2,683
  • Overall homeownership rate: 61.2%

10. Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH

Nashua, New Hampshire
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 73
  • Median hourly wage: $30.22
  • Median home price: $661,141
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $2,881
  • Overall homeownership rate: 61.7%

9. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

Arlington, Virginia
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 76
  • Median hourly wage: $24.63
  • Median home price: $555,266
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $2,420
  • Overall homeownership rate: 63.9%

8. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Tacoma at night
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 79
  • Median hourly wage: $33.18
  • Median home price: $781,617
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $3,407
  • Overall homeownership rate: 60.2%

7. Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, Utah homes
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 87
  • Median hourly wage: $23.29
  • Median home price: $606,689
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $2,644
  • Overall homeownership rate: 68.2%

6. Austin-Round Rock, TX

Row houses in Austin, Texas
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 88
  • Median hourly wage: $22.20
  • Median home price: $582,073
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $2,537
  • Overall homeownership rate: 58.6%

5. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

Houses in Denver, Colorado
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 89
  • Median hourly wage: $24.00
  • Median home price: $638,061
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $2,781
  • Overall homeownership rate: 64.8%

4. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

Carlsbad, California
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 105
  • Median hourly wage: $29.02
  • Median home price: $907,871
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $3,957
  • Overall homeownership rate: 53.9%

3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 108
  • Median hourly wage: $29.08
  • Median home price: $933,282
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $4,068
  • Overall homeownership rate: 48.7%

2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

Hayward, California
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 139
  • Median hourly wage: $35.14
  • Median home price: $1,458,909
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $6,358
  • Overall homeownership rate: 55.0%

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

Homes in San Jose, California
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  • Weekly hours needed to afford a median-priced home: 152
  • Median hourly wage: $35.70
  • Median home price: $1,619,785
  • Monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home: $7,060
  • Overall homeownership rate: 56.6%

Methodology

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To find the metropolitan areas where construction workers would have to work the longest hours to afford a home in their city, researchers at Construction Coverage analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2021 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics data, the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, and Zillow’s most recent Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI), a measure of typical home value.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis.