Present-day water-supply systems use a network of high-pressure pumps, and pipes in buildings are now made of copper, brass, plastic (particularly cross-linked polyethylene called PEX, which is estimated to be used in 60% of single-family homes), or other nontoxic material. Due to its toxicity, most cities moved away from lead water-supply piping by the 1920s in the United States, although lead pipes were approved by national plumbing codes into the 1980s, and lead was used in plumbing solder for drinking water until it was banned in 1986. Drain and vent lines are made of plastic, steel, cast-iron, or lead.
General employment within the construction sector is sensitive to changes in the economy. But job growth for plumbers is projected to be faster than the average for all jobs. New buildings and residences are being built to comply with stricter water efficiency standards and companies housed in older structures are hoping to retrofit to use more energy-efficient systems, so opportunities are in abundance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there should be a hiring spurt of 16 percent for plumbers by the year 2026, which translates to about 75,800 new jobs.