The output of the global construction industry was worth an estimated $10.8 trillion in 2017, and in 2018 was forecast to rise to $12.9 trillion by 2022. As a sector, construction accounts for more than 10% of global GDP (in developed countries, construction comprises 6-9% of GDP), and employs around 7% of the total employed workforce around the globe (accounting for over 273 million full- and part-time jobs in 2014). Since 2010, China has been the world’s largest single construction market. The United States is the second-largest construction market with a 2018 output of $1.581 trillion.
In the United States in February 2020, around $1.4 trillion worth of construction work was in progress, according to the Census Bureau, of which just over $1.0 trillion was for the private sector (split roughly 55:45% between residential and nonresidential); the remainder was public sector, predominantly for state and local government.
Construction is a major source of employment in most countries; high reliance on small businesses and under-representation of women are common traits. For example:
In the US, construction employed around 11.4m people in 2020, with a further 1.8m employed in architectural, engineering, and related professional services – equivalent to just over 8% of the total US workforce. The construction workers were employed in over 843,000 organizations, of which 838,000 were privately held businesses. In March 2016, 60.4% of construction workers were employed by businesses with fewer than 50 staff. Women are substantially underrepresented (relative to their share of total employment), comprising 10.3% of the US construction workforce, and 25.9% of professional services workers, in 2019.
In the United Kingdom, construction contributed £117 billion (6%) to UK GDP in 2018, and in 2019 employed 2.4m workers (6.6% of all jobs). These worked either for 343,000 ‘registered’ construction businesses or for ‘unregistered’ businesses, typically self-employed contractors; just over one million small/medium-sized businesses, mainly self-employed individuals, working in the sector in 2019, comprising about 18% of all UK businesses. Women comprised 12.5% of the UK construction workforce.
According to McKinsey research, productivity growth per worker in construction has lagged behind many other industries across different countries including in the United States and European countries. In the United States, construction productivity per worker has declined by half since the 1960s.