Construction Industry Salaries Remain High

Salaries in the construction industry for craft professionals remain strong according to a report released last week by The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).  The NCCER’s 2015 Construction Craft Salary Survey has project managers with an average annual of $88,675 and project supervisors with an average annual salary of $77,917 at the top of the list for last year.

Other craft professionals commanding top annual salaries in 2015 include tower crane operators ($77,535), power generation technicians ($70,720), combo welders (70,535), and powerline workers ($70,217). On the low end of the list were sheet metal workers and scaffold builders with average annual salaries of $49,189 and $47,166, respectively.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), total compensation for construction workers has been increasing at a higher rate than the national average. For the 12-months ending in December 2015, total compensation for all industries was up 1.9% and for construction, it had increased 2.2%. Average hourly earnings for the construction industry were also above the national average. In February 2016, it was $27.69 per hour for construction and $25.35 per hour for all workers. That’s a 2.4% increase for construction from February 2015 compared to only a 1.8% increase for all industries.

From February 2007 to February 2016, the average hourly earnings for construction has risen 22.2%, slightly lower than the national average of 22.6%. During the Great Recession (Dec. 2007 – Jun. 2009) average hourly earnings only increased 6.0%. Since that time, the construction industry has seen average hourly earnings increase 11.4%.

Union members and construction workers represented by unions continue to earn more than their nonunion counterparts. In 2015, the median weekly earnings for union workers was $1,099 and $1,093 for construction workers represented by unions. Nonunion construction workers, on the other hand, had median weekly earnings of $743 in 2015.

The skilled labor shortage is going to continue to be a growing problem for the construction industry, so expect salaries to continue to rise, especially for craft professionals. According to a report from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) released earlier this year, 71% of construction firms are planning to expand payrolls this year and hire more workers. In order to stay competitive in recruiting and retaining workers, 49% of firms indicated they have increased base pay, 30% are providing incentives and offering bonuses and 23% of firms have increased their contributions to employee benefits programs.

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