Biggest US construction wage rise in 40 years

By Catrin Jones07 March 2022

According to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) of government data, construction employment climbed by 60,000 jobs between January and February 2022 and hourly pay rose at the steepest pace in nearly 40 years in the US.

The average for the entire private sector climbed even more in February - 6.7% year-over-year. (Photo: AGC)

Average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 6% from February 2021 to February 2022. The industry average of US$31.62 per hour for such workers exceeded the private sector average by 17%. 

“All segments of construction added workers in February,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “However, filling positions remains a struggle, as pay is rising even faster in other sectors.”

The AGC is urging Washington officials to boost funding for career and technical education. This will support a wider range of apprenticeship and training opportunities as well as enable more workers to pursue high-paying construction careers

The competition for workers has intensified as other industries offer working conditions that are not possible in construction, such as flexible hours or work from home. The industry is seeing a decline in the number of unemployed jobseekers with construction experience – shrinking by 26% over the past year. 

Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, said, “Construction firms are doing all they can to add employees and pay them well but there are not likely to be enough workers to meet demand unless officials in Washington act now to prepare more job seekers for these opportunities.”

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