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

September 15, 2020 Trimble Buildings

 

It's amazing how things have changed in just a few months. As recently as January, the U.S. economy was supporting an extended boom in the construction industry like we haven't seen in decades. 

At the time, the biggest challenge construction firms were experiencing was a shortage of skilled labor. And, while that problem was never officially resolved, a much bigger issue hit the industry with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated shutdowns, social distancing requirements, and economic upheaval.

Now, as the U.S. moves slowly and sometimes painfully out of pandemic restrictions, construction projects are slowly but surely ramping back up.Companies are learning how to work in the new reality while maintaining the health and safety of their crews.

And, encouragingly, average hourly wages for construction workers have continued to increase despite the challenges caused by the pandemic.

But, as the industry works its way back to pre-COVID productivity, the need for skilled labor still needs to be addressed. And, that offers a great opportunity for those skilled workers who are willing and able to fill needed positions in more lucrative markets. 

With that thought in mind, we’ve updated our 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.

This can serve as an excellent tool for construction company owners, managers, and executives seeking to make the most of the current situation to find and retain the best available skilled workers. 

(NOTE: The following figures have been compiled from a number of reputable sources. While this information is constantly changing, the trends are reliable.)

The 10 States with the Highest Paying Construction Jobs

It’s not always easy to beat your competition by constantly spending more money. And, in the states on these lists, construction pros are already making more than in most areas of the country.

So, if you’re looking to hire and retain the best workers and you’re located in one of these states, you may need to be creative in other areas of employee compensation, including benefits packages, work environment, and performance-based incentives. 

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

  1. Hawaii: $70,750

  2. Illinois: $68,940

  3. Alaska: $66,430

  4. New York: $66,390

  5. Massachusetts: $65,520

  6. New Jersey: $64,560

  7. Washington: $63,660

  8. California: $61,400

  9. Minnesota: $61,100

  10. Connecticut: $60,710

It’s important to note the impact cost of living (COL) has on these figures. A 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 of best states for construction jobs shapes up like this:

  1. Illinois: $66,828

  2. Missouri: $58,827

  3. Minnesota: $56,400

  4. Ohio: $55,439

  5. Wisconsin: $54,403

  6. Michigan: $53,975

  7. Indiana: $53,583

  8. Washington: $53,543

  9. Pennsylvania: $53,010

  10. New Jersey: $52,506

The 10 States with the Lowest Paying Construction Jobs

For companies in states with lower average salaries, attracting the best-skilled workers can be as simple as outbidding the competition. Alternatively, if you’re located in a state with higher average wages, consider actively recruiting in one or more of the states listed below to entice skilled and experienced workers to make the move. 

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

 

  1. Arkansas: $39,630

  2. Mississippi: $40,870

  3. South Dakota: $41,030

  4. Florida: $41,930

  5. North Carolina: $42,460

  6. Tennessee: $43,000

  7. Idaho: $43,040

  8. Alabama: $43,190

  9. South Carolina: $43,550

  10. Georgia: $43,690

Again, the 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: $10,200

  2. California: $30,995

  3. Maryland: $31,217

  4. Maine: $31,570

  5. Oregon: $33,656

  6. South Dakota: $34,074

  7. Vermont: $34,362

  8. Virginia: $35,372

  9. North Carolina: $35,781

  10. New York: $35,898

Additional factors to consider:

As you can already tell from the dramatic COL adjustments, many factors that go into choosing the best location for workers considering relocating to find a better-paying construction job.

Companies looking to secure the best workers should keep these factors in mind as well: 

  • Urban vs. Rural - No matter which state you’re in, urban areas will offer higher wages than rural areas. Depending on the skills and/or specialty needed, 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, New York City and Washington D.C. saw dramatic drops in building activity during the first half of 2020, but still retained their positions at numbers one and two, respectively, in the nation. Dallas weathered the pandemic with a much smaller drop in activity — permits came in just 2% lower than 2019 — to take the third spot. While the impact of the pandemic has made nearly every city rethink its 2020 budget, as the situation normalizes, these trends will become apparent again.

    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.

Skilled laborers or experienced managers in the construction field are sure to be evaluating their career aspirations and taking action to better their situation. So, for construction company decision-makers, it’s the perfect time to review and optimize your hiring and retention strategies to ensure you’re in the best position to move forward with a skilled workforce. 

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