How Construction Workers, Loggers, and Farmers Helped Build America
On July 4th, the U.S. celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the building of the base for the country as we know it today. Of course, things are a lot different now than they were way back in 1776, and a lot has since been built on our forefathers’ foundation. While much has changed over the last 240+ years, some things have remained remarkably the same, like the contributions of construction workers, loggers, and farmers to the building of America.
Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we’ve gone from being 13 colonies to 50 states. The country now stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, and our population has swelled to over 325 million people. As the population moved west, new cities and homes were constructed to support the nation’s expansion. Today, only the rare person builds their own house, and the construction industry now employs more than 6 million workers while creating nearly $1 trillion worth of structures each year.
Look around any city in the U.S. and you’ll find a testament to generations of American builders in the many buildings still standing from the time of the Declaration of Independence. Amazingly, the oldest timber-framed house in the U.S. is almost 150 years older than the Declaration of Independence! It goes without saying that none of this would have been possible without the contribution of the nation’s loggers. Loggers continue to contribute, as a modern 2,400 square-foot home uses 16,000 board feet of framing lumber and over 14,000 square feet of other wood products. Also worth mentioning is the renaissance timber is seeing as a preferred building material in the construction of larger buildings affectionately dubbed “plyscrapers.”
Underfoot, the 4 million miles of roads in the U.S.—anchored by the remarkable interstate highway system—combines the hard work and dedication of the nation’s construction and mining industries. That’s countless tons of aggregate and surfacing.
As the nation has grown, so has its reliance on farmers to fuel its expansion. Around the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, farmers made up 90% of the labor force compared to less than 2% today. However, thanks to advancements in technology and the incredible effort of the nation’s farmers, the U.S. is the most food-secure nation in the world. In fact, a single U.S. farmer now feeds 155 people! Forget 1776 —as recently as 1940, a farmer only fed 19 people.
This July 4th, while you enjoy a parade, go to a barbeque, or watch fireworks, take a minute to think of all the people who have helped build the country, and all the people who are continuing that tradition.
Wishing everyone a happy and safe Independence Day.