Over the 2012-2014 period, rising job openings and employment in the residential construction industry have led to wage increases, with some occupations within the home building and remodeling sector experiencing wage growth at a rate twice the national average.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey (OES) data and NAHB analysis, the 2014 median annual wage of most positions in the residential building sector exceeded the U.S median annual wage of $35,540. The median wage in the residential construction sector was $39,000.
The chart above plots median wages for various occupations in the home building and remodeling sector. The OES survey defines employment as workers who can be classified as full- or part-time employees. The Residential Building Construction industry group consists of 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 people working within the home building and remodeling sector, as opposed to data for these occupations across all sectors of the economy (i.e. the wage data for drywall installers are just for installers in home building, not in commercial construction).
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.
It is also important to keep in mind these numbers are national medians, so local wages may differ. Additionally, changes in national median wages may reflect geographic changes in the concentration of building, with wages rising as high cost/high compensation areas experience growth. This compositional effect can complicate the tracking of wages over time. Future, expected changes in median age of workers will also affect median wages.
The occupation with the highest 2014 wage in the industry was the legal profession, which had a median income of just a little more than $101,780. Managers had a median wage of approximately $80,510 in 2014.
The following chart plots median wages for occupations within the largest class of residential building workers: construction and extraction occupations.
The highest wage for this subsection was for construction supervisors, with an annual median wage of $58,240.
Carpenters, who make up the largest group of workers (46% of the construction occupations in the industry), had a median annual wage of $38,990 in 2014, 10% higher than the U.S. median annual wage.
The next chart plots occupations within the home building and remodeling sector that experienced wage growth over the 2012-2014 period that exceeded the change of the industry median of 2.5%. Over the same two-year period, the U.S. median for all occupations grew at slightly lower rate: 2.27%.
The largest gains were seen for some occupations that builders have noted as being in short supply. For example, access to roofers has been cited as a challenge in both NAHB surveys of builders and a separate Metrostudy/Builder Magazine survey. According to the BLS OES data, median wages for roofers in the residential construction industry increased more than 15% over the 2012-2014 period.
The occupation of drywall installers was cited as the third most challenging occupation for builders to contract with in the Metrostudy analysis. The BLS data indicates median wages for drywall and ceiling tile installers was up almost 14% over the 2012-2014 period.
Solar energy property installations is heating up for housing, and the occupation class with the largest wage gains was solar photovoltaic installers, with an increase of more than 18% over the two-year period.
Rounding out occupation classes within the home building and remodeling sectors that experienced more than a 5% increase in median wages over the 2012-2014 period were sales positions (10%), pipelayers/plumbers (9%), design jobs (9%), equipment operators (8%), electricians (6%), and production jobs (5%). All of these occupations experienced at least twice the growth in median wages relative to the overall U.S. median wage.
A follow-up post will examine the distribution of employment by occupation within the residential construction sector for 2014.