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REALTORS® in the American Workforce

With the payroll jobs numbers released last Friday showing that a net of 217,000 jobs were added in May and the unemployment rate held steady at 6.3 percent, we thought this would be a good time to take a look at how members of the National Association of REALTORS® fit into the American workforce.

Our primary knowledge about the American workforce comes from a release put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) based on two surveys. The household survey, a survey of households, gives information on the number of employed persons and unemployed persons from which we derive the unemployment rate and labor force participation rate. The establishment survey, a survey of businesses, gives information on the number of employees on payrolls from which we derive the number of jobs added or lost on net.

We used membership data from the association combined with state by state data on the civilian population, labor force, and number of employed persons from the BLS. We used the household survey because surveys of our members show that roughly 8 in 10 Realtor® members are independent contractors.

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REALTOR® members have made up a moderately consistent share of the number of employed persons in the US from 1980 to 2013, ranging from a low of 0.5% in 1998 to a high of 0.9% in 2006. Still, given the size of the employed population, the difference in membership from the low end to the high end of the range is more than 500,000 members. Currently, membership is near the average rate since 1980 of 0.7%. Because the number of employed persons has grown over time, the number of REALTOR® members has also grown. In 2013 the association had just over 1 million members while the number of employed persons in the US was around 140 million.

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What does this mean for membership going forward? Since membership is currently near its average share relative to the employed population, barring any structural shifts, we expect the number of REALTOR® members to grow at roughly the same pace as the number of employed persons.

Danielle Hale, Director of Housing Statistics

As a Research Economist at NAR, Danielle studies tax issues, the wealth impact of home ownership, and different measures of home prices.

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