What industries are most affected vary from one cycle to the next. It depends on historical factors contingent to each cycle. It was radio in the 1920s, computers in the 1960s, dot.coms in the 1990s, housing in the 2000s. Historical work gives an account of the contingent factors.
Take a look at Tom Woods’s book, Meltdown.
The primary cause of business cycles is monetary inflation and credit expansion generated by a government supported money and banking system characterized by central banks and fractional-reserve commercial banks. Yes, the entire capital structure is distorted by monetary inflation and credit expansion. At the height of the bust, 15 million people were unemployed. the majority of them did not have jobs building houses before the bust. BLS data show that employment in construction and extraction occupations was around 5% of all employment in the U.S. in 2011.
Census Bureau data show that new single family house construction is only around 1/5 of total construction spending in the economy and total construction is a small part of overall production.
Housing construction is a small fraction of all production in the economy. Housing was a conspicuous, but not major, part of the recent boom-bust. In every cycle, the press draws our attention to a signature industry. By doing so, it draws our attention away from the more important aspects of the cycle.