As the construction labor market remains tight and skilled labor shortages persist, wages in construction continue to rise, often outpacing and exceeding typical earnings in other industries. According to the latest Current Employment Statistics (CES) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), average hourly earnings (AHE) in construction vary greatly across 43 states that reported these data.
Some of the highest AHE are recorded by states in Northeast and along the Pacific coast. As of March 2022, seven states reported average earnings, not seasonally adjusted, in excess of $40 per hour, including Massachusetts – $43.89, New Jersey – $42.17, Illinois – $41.83, New York – $41.61, Alaska – $40.67, Rhode Island – $40.26, and Washington – $40.19. At the same time, not seasonally adjusted US average hourly earnings in construction were $34.01. The overall US private sector AHE were under $32.
At the other end of the spectrum are mostly Southern states with their vast majority reporting not seasonally adjusted average hourly earnings in construction of $30 or less. The bottom ten states with the lowest AHE include eight states in the South. The lowest hourly wages are in Mississippi – $25.36, Arkansas – $26.41, followed by Idaho – $27.4 and New Mexico – $27.76. Alabama – $28.44, Texas – $28.6, Georgia – $28.71, Oklahoma – $28.86, Kentucky – $29.04, and Florida – $29.15 conclude the bottom ten hourly wages in construction list.
While differences in regional hourly rates might reflect variation in the cost of living across states, the faster growing wages are more likely to point out to specific labor markets that are particularly tight. Year-over-year, all but one state reported rising hourly wages. The only exception was Alaska where hourly rates declined 3.4%. Eight states reported the increase in hourly rates of over 10% – Oregon (14.3%), Mississippi (12.6%), North Carolina (12.5%), Virginia (11.8%), Kentucky (11%), West Virginia (10.9%), South Carolina (10.6%), New Mexico (10.4%).
On a monthly basis, the average hourly earnings grew fastest in Louisiana (3.3%), Arkansas (3%), Virginia (2.9%), South Carolina (2.4%), Alabama (2.4%), North Dakota (2.1%) and Montana (2%).