Construction wages rose 3.6 percent in 2016, and in 2017 contractors estimated an increase of 3.4 percent. But, just like any other industry, there are many different reasons why construction salaries vary. As we close out 2018, it’s a good time to reflect on the prior year’s salary statistics.
Construction Salary Factors
- Size, scale and complexity of project
- Local economy
- Local real estate market
- Job responsibilities
- Number of projects being managed
- Tenure, experience and track record of success
- Geographic location
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction laborers/helpers earned a median pay of $15.49 per hour in 2016 with the industry average hovering right around $28.20 per hour. Construction wages are currently 12% higher than all other private sector industries.
Project Supervisors, Management & Critical Specialized Positions
Per Contractor Compensation Quarterly, the actual change in base pay from 2016 to 2017 ranged from 4.7% (Assistant Superintendents) to 7.0% (Superintendents) with Superintendent salaries averaging 6.1% and Construction Managers coming in at 6.9%. The project management job family saw entry level Project Engineers jumping 5.0% with experienced PE’s changing 6.8%, construction Project Manager salaries moving 6.2% and Senior Project Managers averaging 5.5%. Critical specialized positions also saw exceptional increases with Risk Managers changing 6.7% and Safety Directors recording an 8.0% increase in the past year.
Construction Worker Salaries by Region/State
The Northeast region of the US ranked #1 in many different categories ranging from Median Project Director and Superintendent to Project Engineer and Project Executive salary. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut all made the top ten list regarding states with the best construction worker salaries. Northwestern states including California and Washington also ranked well for those working in the construction industry. The only category not owned by these two regions was the Median General Foreman Salary. The Midwest ranked #1 in this category with Minnesota also making the list.
2018 Salary Predictions
Many industry experts are expecting construction salaries to continue rising into the new year due to lingering skilled labor shortages and a growing demand for private-sector building projects. “The construction industry continues to contribute to the nation’s economic expansion, adding jobs at double the rate of the overall economy. While some of the job gain may reflect hurricane recovery work in Texas and Florida, recent spending and regional employment data show the job growth spans both residential and nonresidential projects, and is occurring in most states,” said Ken Simonson, the chief economist of AGC of America.
Since public-sector investments in infrastructure and other construction projects are down for the year, predicting future construction salary movement is dependent upon pending tax reform legislation. If pass-through businesses like construction firms benefit from it, then its salaries should continue to trend upward. AGC of America CEO Stephen E. Sandherr said, “The tax proposal released today provides a much-needed framework that will provoke important debate about the best way to improve the tax environment for employers and workers. As Congress and the Trump administration work to further refine today’s proposal, we will continue our vigorous advocacy work to ensure the measure benefits construction employers of all types and sizes. In particular, we will work to ensure that pass-through businesses, including the majority of construction firms, also benefit from tax reform. Any failure to address pass-through businesses in the final plan would mean many construction firms would not benefit.”
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