See how your state’s CRE development and operations add to U.S. economy

by Brianna Crandall — May 8, 2017 — Development, construction and ongoing operations of new commercial real estate (CRE) in the United States — office, industrial, warehouse and retail — generates significant economic growth at the state and national levels, supporting 6.25 million American jobs and contributing $861 billion to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, according to NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

The annual study Economic Impacts of Commercial Real Estate, published by the NAIOP Research Foundation, measures the contributions to GDP, salaries and wages generated, and jobs created and supported from CRE development and operations.

  • CRE development, construction and ongoing operations supported 6.25 million American jobs in 2016 (a measure of both new and existing jobs).
  • CRE development, construction and ongoing operations contributed $861 billion to U.S. GDP in 2016.
  • There were 410 million square feet of office, retail, warehouse and industrial built in 2016, with capacity to house more than 1 million new workers with a total estimated payroll of $57.6 billion.

Thomas Bisacquino, NAIOP president and CEO, said:

The importance of commercial development to the U.S. economy is well established, and the industry’s growth is critical to creating new jobs, improving infrastructure, and creating places to work, shop and play. Commercial real estate is a robust contributor to national and state economies, and NAIOP is dedicated to working with the administration, Congress and state legislators to develop bipartisan infrastructure investment and incentives for capital investment that empowers our industry to expand.

Construction spending continues to increase

A key factor in the economy’s growth in 2016 was the continuing expansion of the construction sector. Construction spending has increased each year since 2011, gaining 48.7 percent between 2011 and October 2016. For the year ending in October 2016, total construction spending was up 3.4 percent, exceeding the GDP growth rate for this period.

  • Office construction expenditures totaled $36.6 billion in 2016, increasing by 28.7 percent from 2015.
  • Retail construction expenditures totaled $17.2 billion in 2016, a decrease of 7 percent from gains of 8.2 percent in 2015.
  • Warehouse construction totaled $13.6 billion in 2016, registering a sixth consecutive year of increased expenditures and gaining 12.7 percent from 2015.
  • Industrial construction spending decreased sharply for a second year in 2016 to $15.5 billion, declining 29.9 percent from 2015. This pullback in industrial/manufacturing construction in 2016 and 2015 can be attributed to the downturn in the energy sector and a weakening in global demand for U.S. manufactured goods due largely to unfavorable exchange rates with the United States’ major trading partners.

By compensating for slower-growing sectors, the construction sector’s gains will provide the foundation that should extend the economy’s expansion into the next decade, making it the longest business cycle in history, according to the report. The report notes that if the economy avoids recession through mid-2020, it would tie the previous longest business cycle record of 10 years, achieved in the 1980s.

Top 10 states by construction value

Jobs supported and income generated by annual building operations represent a continuing flow of expenditures into local, state and national economies that extend over the life of the structures. The following are the top 10 states by construction value for office, industrial, warehouse and retail, combined:

StateDirect Spending
(in billions of dollars)
Total Output
(in billions of dollars)
Jobs Supported2015 Ranking
1. New York $24.805 $46.058 284,135 1
2. Texas $18.504 $44.399 310,994 2
3. California $14.340 $30.792 211,341 4
4. Louisiana $9.966 $19.724 146,085 3
5. Florida $7.598 $15.752 134,152 5
6. Georgia $5.720 $13.188 103,519 8
7. Michigan $5.721 $12.143 97,830 Not ranked
8. Illinois $4.916 $11.340 75,881 6
9. Pennsylvania $4.080 $9.123 60,298 Not ranked
10.Massachusetts $4.603 $8.883 55,435 Not ranked

The report is authored by economist Stephen S. Fuller, Ph.D., Dwight Schar Faculty Chair, university professor and director, Stephen S. Fuller Institute, Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia. Data was provided by Dodge Data & Analytics.

The full report includes detailed data on CRE development and operations activity in all 50 states, including the direct spending, total output, salaries and wages, and jobs supported, with individual state data included.

The full Economic Impacts of Commercial Real Estate, 2017 Edition, report and appendices are available to download from the NAIOP Web site.

Comprising 18,000 members in North America, NAIOP is a leading organization for developers, owners and related professionals in office, industrial, retail and mixed-use real estate that advances responsible commercial real estate development and advocates for effective public policy.