Rent Control Will Reduce Jobs in Skilled Trade

Posted By: Brett Waller Advocacy News, Articles,

Washington state experienced a population boom, growing 12 percent over the past decade. Yet despite this growth, the state underproduced 225k homes between 2000-2015 – everything from apartments to ADUs to single family houses – creating a housing crisis long before COVID-19.

The pandemic has undoubtedly worsened the situation, with thousands unemployed and many struggling to afford housing. As decisionmakers mull over solutions to address the economic fallout from COVID-19 crisis, they should take note that policies like rent control would actually slash housing creation – and in turn, living-wage jobs.

Ranging anywhere from electricians, to plumbers, to cement masons – those working in the skilled trades and construction are the backbone of housing development.

Without them, Washingtonians wouldn’t have the homes or apartments we live in today – and you can count on them being a major player in narrowing the state’s severe housing supply gap when we emerge from the pandemic.

You can also expect those in the skilled trades and construction sector to help Washington rebound from the COVID recession.

In addition to providing living-wage jobs, skilled and construction tradesman and tradeswomen help to contribute billions to the state’s economy through housing construction. In 2018, the total economic impact of constructing 24,000 single-family homes in Washington state was $8.4 billion.

Additionally, a UW study estimated the construction industry paid more than $2.1 billion annually in sales and B&O taxes, representing 18.2 percent of all payments.

While state lawmakers set their agendas as they head into session in January, they should double down on sustainable solutions to increasing housing development and job growth so that Washington residents can land back on their feet. Not on policies that would do just the opposite.

According to a report published by economic consulting firm ECONorthwest, rent control would slash housing creation in Washington by 15,000 homes over the next 10 years – decreasing housing investment to the tune of $3.5 billion over the next decade.

As a result of this reduced investment in housing construction, jobs in the skilled and construction trades would spiral down as well. According to the National Association of Home Builders, it’s estimated that foregoing the construction of 100 single family homes is a loss of 185 construction jobs alone.

Instead of rent control, lawmakers should consider expanding the Washington Housing Trust Fund to increase investment in affordable housing opportunities – or build on last year’s sales tax rebate for cities that invest it in housing creation. The state can also help spur housing creation and jobs with property tax incentives for housing providers that keep rents below the market rate.

What we don’t need are policies that slash housing creation and living-wage jobs at a time when Washingtonians need it the most.