Wages in Home Building and Remodeling

Wages for most jobs in home building and remodeling typically exceed the median wage in the U.S., according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.

In a previous analysis, we examined the kinds of jobs that exist in the residential construction sector.

Using the same 2012 BLS data, it is possible to track wages of employees in the industry (click the chart below for a more detailed view).  It should be noted that typical wages will vary greatly from area to area, so the following data are national medians – wages in your area may differ.

median wages_res construction_2012

The U.S. median annual wage in 2012 was $34,750. The chart above plots the medians for various occupations in the home building and remodeling sector (the single item above with no value did not have sufficient data). The OES survey defines employment as the number of workers who can be classified as full- or part-time employees. The following profile examines the Residential Building Construction industry group, which includes builders of for-sale and owner/contractor built single-family and multifamily housing, as well as residential remodelers.

The wage data presented in this post are for occupations within the home building and remodeling sector, as opposed to data for these occupations across all sectors of the economy. Annual wages are calculated, by the BLS, as the hourly wage paid on a 2,080 hour annual basis. Wages are measured on a gross pay basis, but certain bonuses and employer paid benefits are excluded.

The occupation with the highest wage in the industry is the legal profession, which has a median income of just a little more than $99,000. Managers, who constitute 9% of industry employment, had a median income of approximately $79,000 in 2012. Occupations with median wages in excess of the U.S. median represent approximately 80% of total employees.

median wages_construction occupation jobs_2012

Within the largest subsection of the industry (construction and extraction occupations – 64% of industry employment), a majority of the occupations again have median annual wages in excess of the U.S. median. The highest wage for this subsection is for construction supervisors, with an annual median wage of $56,500.

Carpenters, who make up the largest group (47% of the construction occupations and 30% of industry employment), had a median annual wage of $38,140 in 2012.  This is 10% higher than the U.S. median annual wage.

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0 replies

  1. The conclusion in this post is inaccurate due to the fact that it’s not OK to extrapolate hourly construction wage estimates into *annual* construction pay for the blue collar occupations (year-round/full-time work is atypical). Even so, the American Community Survey (household survey) estimates for FT/Year-Round workers show that typical (median) annual pay for *all* (not just residential) construction occupations was LESS than median annual pay for all occupations 2008-2012 http://1.usa.gov/1guH4Ul

    • I should say that I *do* think that it is interesting to see the cross-occupational comparisons. I simply would urge you and readers to discount the estimated annual pay for the blue collar occupations, given the findings of the American Community Survey.

    • The OES data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are used for this analysis because the data are more timely and more detailed in terms of roles and occupations. The ACS table does not allow examining specific occupations or sectors within construction. The BLS recommends using the OES data for use for job seekers in terms of gauging market wages. Given this role, we published this data for builders to examine as well.

      • Mr. Dietz: I appreciate the reply and I also understand the challenges of making wage/income comparisons at the sub-sector or detailed occupation level.

        The explicit point made in the Eye on Housing headline and in the conclusion was that median homebuilding wages are *higher* than median national wages. I think that a reader would therefore reasonably conclude that homebuilding wages ought to attract plenty of workers because “the trades” are better-than-typical paying jobs. That claim is at odds with the best data we have for measuring what matters most to the *suppliers* of labor: annual wage income. It doesn’t really matter that we can’t drill down to the sub-sectoral level with the ACS. If construction occupations *overall* yield lower-than-median gross annual pay, then we _know_ that residential annual gross pay is even lower (based on QCEW data, which show quite clearly that residential specialty trades contractors have lower average pay than nonresidential specialty trades contractors)

        I am reading a lot these days about potential and actual skilled construction labor shortages. Perhaps the shortages stem in part from employers’ & developers’ misunderstanding of the relative attractiveness of the homebuilding industry’s level of pay. My comment was aimed at helping to fill-out the statistical picture from the household side …

        Scott Littlehale
        Smart Cities Prevail


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