Economic Contribution of REITs in the United States

REITs in the United States own nearly $3 trillion of gross real estate assets and public listed equity REIT portfolios included more than 290,000 properties at year-end 2016.

Nareit commissioned EY to estimate the current economic contribution of all U.S. REITs (including public listed, public non-listed, and private REITs) in the United States. Today, REITs in the United States own nearly $3 trillion of gross real estate assets and public listed equity REIT portfolios included more than 290,000 properties at year-end 2016.

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  • The total economic contribution of U.S. REITs in 2016, the most recent year of complete information, was an estimated 2 million full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs and $118.6 billion of labor income. The total economic contribution, or “footprint,” of REITs consists of the direct operations of REITs and related businesses in the United States, as well as the impacts from dividend and interest payments by REITs and REIT property improvement and construction investments.  
  • The U.S. economic contribution of REITs extends beyond the direct operations of REITs and includes the indirect contributions of their suppliers and the induced contributions of businesses supported by the spending of REIT employees, bondholders and shareholders.

The figure below summarizes the direct, indirect and induced REIT contributions to U.S. employment activity.

  • REIT operations supported 721,000 FTE jobs and $43.8 billion in labor income.
  • Capital expenditures and new construction support of 806,000 FTE jobs and $49 billion in labor income.
  • Dividends distributed and interest payments to investors support 450,000 jobs and $25.8 billion in labor income.

Some key results related to REIT economic contributions in 2016 include:

  • REITs directly employed an estimated 240 thousand FTE employees who earned $14 billion of labor income in the United States. REIT supplier purchases and spending by REIT employees supported an additional 481,000 FTE jobs and $29.8 billion of earnings in the United States. In total, the economic footprint of U.S. REIT operations comprised 721,000 FTE jobs and $37.4 billion in labor income.  
  • REIT activities also resulted in the payment of an estimated $48.6 billion of interest income and the distribution of $109.9 billion of dividend income by REITs. This interest and dividend income supported 450,000 FTE jobs earning $25.8 billion of labor income through the induced contribution of re-spending by REIT bondholders and shareholders. An additional $65.4 billion of interest and dividends was paid by REITs to the retirement accounts of U.S. residents, where it is available for future consumption spending.  
  • REITs invested $52.8 billion in new construction and routine capital expenditures to maintain existing property.  The related construction activity supported 378,000 FTE construction jobs that earned $22.1 billion in labor income. Purchases of goods from suppliers and consumer spending by construction and supplier employees contributed an estimated 428,000 FTE jobs and $27 billion in labor income.

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