Many of the workers who are instrumental in building the nation’s homes are priced out of owning their own, reveals the new Paycheck to Paycheck: Wages and the Cost of Housingin America report.

Carpenters cannot afford a home in 157 of the 208 metropolitan markets studied. It’s not much better for equipment operators, long-haul truck drivers, and construction laborers, according to the study released last week by the Center for Housing Policy, the research affiliate of the National Housing Conference (NHC).

This year’s study takes a special look at the housing affordability for five construction-related jobs that may see a boost from the federal stimulus package, including construction managers, carpenters, equipment operators, long-haul truck drivers, and construction laborers.

For all the occupations except construction managers, homeownership remains unaffordable even at a time of falling home prices.

“Contrary to popular belief, the recent decline in home prices has not resolved the nation’s housing affordability problems,” said Jeffrey Lubell, executive director of the Center for Housing Policy. “Working families—including most of the workers who will be hired as a result of federal spending in the stimulus package—still cannot afford to buy a home in most markets, and many also struggle to afford their rents.”

On the rental side, construction managers and carpenters could afford to rent a home in the majority of the 210 rental markets studied. However, equipment operators could not afford the typical rent for a two-bedroom apartment in 52 of the markets, long-haul truck drivers in 57, and construction laborers were priced out of 161 of the rental markets.

The study compares housing costs in more than 200 metro areas with the wages earned by workers in 60 occupations.

The study also found that the rental market in Florida, one of the state’s hardest hit by foreclosures, has become substantially less affordable during the past year. The largest increase in rental unaffordability for a two-bedroom apartment in the state was in Pensacola, which went from a ranking of 182 in 2007 to 126 last year.

San Francisco is the nation’s most expensive rental market, with the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment costing $1,658, and the most expensive homeownership market with the median home price of $575,000, down from $770,000 in 2007.

The NHC and the Center for Housing Policy were recently honored with the 2009 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

Paycheck to Paycheck can be found at