Region's homebuilders generated $710 million in wages, study says

April 21, 1995|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun Staff Writer

Construction of new homes in the Baltimore region last year generated $710 million in wages for workers in land development, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade and related industries, the Home Builders Association of Maryland said yesterday.

A study of the impact of 13,125 new homes on the region's economy also showed the industry provided more than $228 million in taxes and fees last year. Builders in the region paid an additional $1.8 million in agricultural transfer taxes, levied when farms are developed for housing.

On a mission to polish builders' image and show the industry's importance as a major employer in Maryland, the builders group hired Legg Mason Realty Group a year ago to compile the study, focusing on Baltimore city and Baltimore, Harford, Cecil, Carroll, Howard and Anne Arundel counties.

Builders have complained of being saddled with ever-more burdensome fees, taxes and regulations year after year. They've watched state and local governments shift from a posture of pro-development to one of anti-growth.

Yet few policy-makers recognize the industry's contribution as an employer and tax generator, said Clark P. Turner, who initiated the study during his term as president in 1994.

The Home Builders released the findings last night as part of a state-of-the-industry report at a Maryland Builders Association meeting in Baltimore.

"We think housing production is critical to the Maryland economy and helping us recover," Mr. Turner said yesterday before making the presentation. "We produce thousands of jobs and pour billions of dollars into the economy. It seems to us political debate rarely considers the economic impact that home building has on the state.

"I hope we'll be opening the eyes of the policy makers as to what our true impact is," he said.

Residential construction employs 94,322 workers statewide, ranking it above manufacturing, transportation, wholesale trade and finance in number of jobs, and accounting for 13 percent of the state's employment, according to the report.

"It's easy to see the impact of a General Motors, Bethlehem Steel or McCormick," Mr. Turner said. "The work of the home building industry can't be seen at a single factory or a single large office building."

Homes built in the Baltimore region in 1994 -- an off-year for the industry locally -- generated more than $228 million in property taxes, state and county transfer taxes and recordation fees, local fees, state sales tax on construction materials and construction workers' income taxes. That comes to $17,400 per home, the study said.

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