Construction Wages Continue to Increase

Wages in U.S. dollars.
Published On
Nov 15, 2019

According to the 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey data, as well as analysis by the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $47,290 (with the top 25% making at least $66,290), while the U.S. median wage is just $38,620 (with the top 25% earning at least $62,510).

Year over year, median wages in construction outpaced the national median wages—3.2% versus 2.5%. Wages of various construction laborers and helpers rose even faster, ranging from 6.7% for roofers’ helpers to 3.6% for construction laborers.

The report also noted that, “Historically, subcontractor bids increase faster than construction wages, adding more inflationary fuel to housing prices. These findings are consistent with record high labor shortages reported by NAHB, causing builders to pay higher wages and subcontractor bids, and forcing them to increase home prices.”

In general, according to the report, construction trades that require more years of formal education, specialized training, or licensing tend to offer higher annual wages. 

For example, “Carpenters are one of the most prevalent construction trades in the industry,” the report said. “The trade requires less formal education. Nevertheless, the median wages of carpenters exceed the national median. Half of carpenters working in construction earn over $46,810, and the highest paid 25% earn at least $61,810.”

However, the median income for electricians is almost $7,000 higher at $53,550, with the top 25% making a minimum of $71,860 ($10,050 higher than the 25% highest paid carpenters).

Median Wages
for the 18 Construction Professions Reported 

Profession Wage
Elevator Installer/Repairer  $78,990
First-Line Supervisor $64,600
Boilermaker $64,480
Construction and Building Inspector $60,240
Pile-Driver Operator $58,960
Taper $55,110
Structural Iron and Steel Worker $54,730
Mine Cutting/Channeling Machine Operator $54,550
Electrician $53,550
Plumber/Pipefitter/Steamfitter $53,540
Brick/Stone Mason $50,860
Equipment Engineer $50,360
Sheet Metal Worker $49,350
Reinforcing Iron/Rebar Worker $49,050
Insulation/Mechanical Worker $47,150
Insulation/Mechanical Worker $47,150
Service Unit Operators $46,900
Carpenter $46,810


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