Survey Finds Electrical Craft Wages in Flux

In October 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average hourly wage for construction workers increased to $30.18 in September, up from $30.00 in August, and 3.1 percent higher than September 2017. According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), this was the first time ever that average wages for construction workers surpassed $30 an hour.

Wages for construction workers in general, as well as those for related trades and professionals, have, for the most part, been increasing in recent months and years. Difficulty in getting qualified help has been the major driving force. According to the "2018 Workforce Survey Results," published jointly by AGC and Autodesk, 80 percent of construction firms reported that they are having a difficult time filling all or some craft positions.

Compared to one year ago, 72 percent of firms reported difficulty hiring pipelayers (the most difficult position to fill, according to the survey), while 47 percent reported difficulty hiring traffic control personnel (the least difficult position to fill, according to the survey). Electricians were in between at 60 percent.

As a way to increase workforce levels, 62 percent of construction employers responding to the survey reported that their firms had increased base pay rates.

So how have wages for workers in the electrical profession in specific fared in recent years? A survey of companies across the U.S. representing over 350,000 craft employees, conducted by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), a nonprofit that promotes careers in construction, found the following in terms of average 2018 annual wages:

  • Industrial Electrician: $67,269 (up from $58,537 in 2015, the last time the survey was conducted)
  • Electronic Systems Technician: $63,093 (up from $61,265 in 2015)
  • Commercial Electrician: $61,139 (up from $57,741 in 2015)

What is interesting is that average wages for two other types of electrical craft workers have actually decreased in the last three years:

  • Power Line Worker: $68,262 in 2018 (down from $70,217 in 2015)
  • Power Generation Technician: $63,024 in 2018 (down from $70,720 in 2015)

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