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Home > Nature of the Construction Industry > Working Conditions > Earnings
Earnings in Construction Industry

Earnings in construction are significantly higher than the average for all industries (table 1) Average earnings of workers in the specialty trade contractors segment were somewhat higher than those of workers employed by building or heavy and civil engineering construction contractors.

Earnings of workers in the construction industry vary by the education and experience of the worker, type of work, the size and nature of the construction project, geographic location, and economic conditions. Earnings of construction trade workers are often affected by poor weather. Heavy rain may slow or even stop work on a construction project. Traditionally, winter is the slack period for construction activity, especially in cold regions, but there is a trend toward more year-round construction even in colder areas. Because construction trades are dependent on one another-especially on large projects-work delays in one trade delay or stop work in another. Earnings in selected occupations in construction in 2002 appear in table 2.

Table 1. Average earnings of non supervisory workers in construction, 2002

Industry segment  Weekly  Hourly
Construction industry  712  18.51
Construction of buildings  676  17.74
Industrial building  779  18.77
Nonresidential building  755  19.16
Commercial building  746  19.31
Residential building  597  16.24
Heavy and civil engineering construction 754  18.00
Highway, street, and bridge construction  813  19.16
Other heavy construction  780  18.13
Specialty trade contractors  715  18.91
Electrical contractors  816  20.75
Plumbing and HVAC contractors  781  19.93
Flooring contractors  688  18.46
Building finishing contractors  645  17.72
Masonry contractors  643  18.65
Painting and wall covering contractors  596  16.49
Roofing contractors  591  16.61

About 19 percent of construction trades workers were union members or covered by union contracts, compared with about 15 percent of workers throughout private industry. Many different unions represent the various construction trades and form joint apprenticeship committees with local employers to supervise apprenticeship programs.

Table 2. Median hourly earnings of the largest occupations in construction, 2002

Occupation Construction of buildings Heavy and civil engineering construction Specialty trade contractors All industries
Construction managers  30.49  30.83  29.94  30.53
First-line supervisors/managers of construction trades and extraction workers  23.38  22.88  22.80  22.92
Plumbers, pipe fitters, and steamfitters  19.44  18.18  19.43  19.31
Carpenters  16.78  18.38  16.67  16.44
Insulation workers  16.50  13.60  13.57  13.91
Truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer  14.99  14.40  14.45  15.97
Painters, construction and maintenance  14.11  13.85  14.00  13.98
Construction laborers  12.15  12.66  11.97  11.90
Helpers--electricians  11.09  11.64  11.03  11.10

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