The U.S. States with the Highest Paying Construction Jobs

August 7, 2018

The current state of the U.S. economy is supporting a boom in the construction industry like we haven’t seen in decades. According to Newsweek, this trend is expected to continue throughout 2018. However, along with unprecedented growth and profit, construction firms are experiencing a challenge they’ve rarely faced: a shortage of skilled labor. The Newsweek article reports:

“About 75 percent of construction firms said they plan to increase payrolls according to a survey from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) released last week, and wages for construction workers also rose last year to an hourly average of $29.24. According to the survey, payroll and wage increases attempt to cope with the dwindling pool of qualified workers and tight competition.”

This may leave firm owners and GC’s with mixed feelings about the current state of affairs, but there’s definitely one group who can only see this glass as half-full: construction workers.

A skilled laborer — even in an entry level position — stands to earn more in 2018 and beyond than ever before. And, as long as the supply/demand ratio remains in their favor, they can also enjoy the freedom to seek out work where it’s most lucrative.

With that unique thought in mind, we’ve compiled wage information for all 50 states along with some facts about the areas of the country with the best and worst average pay for construction jobs.

(NOTE: The following figures have been compiled from a number of reputable sources. While this information is constantly changing, the trends are reliable. The interactive map included with this post should serve as a valuable tool for construction workers seeking the best pay across the country.)


The 10 States with the Highest Paying Construction Jobs

The 10 states offering the highest average pay for construction workers — along with their average annual salaries — are:

  1. Hawaii: $67,450

  2. Alaska: $66,600

  3. Illinois: $65,390

  4. New York: $64,420

  5. Massachusetts: $61,730

  6. New Jersey: $60,710

  7. Washington: $58,450

  8. California: $58,010

  9. Minnesota: $57,650

  10. Connecticut: $56,790

It’s important to note the impact that cost of living (COL) has on these figures, since your salary will go farther in states with a lower average cost of living than where the COL is higher. The following figures are adjusted to equalize wages while factoring in the cost of living. With COL taken into consideration, the Top 10 List shapes up like this:

  1. Illinois: $67,221

  2. Missouri: $58,364

  3. Minnesota: $57,823

  4. Michigan: $55,073

  5. Wisconsin: $54,703

  6. Washington: $54,300

  7. North Dakota: $53,821

  8. Indiana: $53,807

  9. Wyoming: $53,693

  10. Ohio: $52,493


The 10 States with the Lowest Paying Construction Jobs

The 10 states offering the lowest average wages (in actual dollars) for construction jobs include:

  1. Arkansas: $37,660

  2. South Dakota: $39,320

  3. Mississippi: $39,660

  4. Florida: $39,810

  5. South Carolina: $39,820

  6. North Carolina: $39,940

  7. Tennessee: $40,610

  8. Alabama: $40,770

  9. Idaho: $41,650

  10. Georgia: $41,690

Again, cost of living needs to be factored in to get the most accurate view. So, here are the 10 states with the lowest paying construction jobs, factoring in COL:

  1. Hawaii: $7,892

  2. District of Columbia: $24,649

  3. California: $34,226

  4. Maryland: $35,187

  5. Vermont: $35,955

  6. Maine: $36,271

  7. Oregon: $36,934

  8. South Dakota: $39,517

  9. South Carolina: $40,019

  10. Florida: $40,089

Check our interactive map if you’re not seeing the state you’re interested in.

Additional factors to consider:

As you can already tell from the dramatic COL adjustments, there are many factors that go into choosing the best location if you’re considering relocating to find a better-paying construction job. Here are just a few factors to consider closely:

  • Urban vs. Rural - No matter which state you’re in, urban areas will offer higher wages than rural areas. Depending on your skills and/or specialty, urban areas will often provide a higher volume of work which can mean a steadier paycheck. However, cities will always require a higher cost of living when compared to outlying rural areas.

    Key strategy: The best option in many cases — if it works for your personal circumstances — is to settle down in a rural or suburban area and commute into the city for work.

  • Neighboring States - As you peruse the map, you’ll likely find a number of instances where a state with a low or moderate cost of living neighbors a state with higher construction job wages. In some cases, this could be a perfect combination resulting in maximum profit for you.

    Key strategy: Explore homes near the border under these conditions. For example, is it possible for you to live in Nevada while working across the border in California? The 40 percent difference in the cost of living could be huge if you can make it work.

  • Construction Booms: Outside of median wages and average cost of living figures, there are particular cities or regions in the country where the construction market is booming above and beyond other industries. For example, Detroit is looking forward to over $5.4 billion in active real estate investment over the next three years, and recorded a 31 percent increase in residential building permits between 2016 and 2017. With very low cost of living and moderate wages already in the mix, Detroit’s sheer volume of upcoming work could buck the averages and raise construction wages far higher.

    Key strategy: If you’re willing to stay mobile, you can keep your finger on the pulse of the construction market across the country and move to maximize income.

If you’re a skilled laborer in the construction field, now is a great time to be evaluating your career aspirations and taking action to better your situation.

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