Survey examines construction wages

Wage increases for construction management and staff personnel have steadily decreased over the past five years, according to a survey by the Construction Financial Management Association.

Although there has been a steady demand for labor, actual wage increases have not met predictions. The national average wage increase for 2003 was 3.7 percent, which was the lowest in the 21-year history of the survey. The highest wage increase was in 1999-2000, at 5.1 percent.

Still, base pay has increased reasonably over the past decade for several construction staff positions. Base pay for superintendents rose 47.6 percent to an average salary of $64,731 in 2003, salaries for project superintendents increased 42.7 percent to an average of $73,300 and wages for construction managers increased 41.1 percent to an average of $84,765. The survey showed the average base pay in 2003 for the following job titles was: $52,884 for an assistant superintendent; $70,328 for a project manager/estimator; $67,653 for an equipment manager; and $94,537 for a senior project manager.

Wages for a few positions did not increase greatly. For example, field office managers experienced only a 16.2 percent base wage increase, project engineers’ salaries increased 24.3 percent and pay for human resources directors rose 25.4 percent.

Some regions also faired better than others as far as pay is concerned. If you are a construction professional in California, Nevada or Arizona, you probably have a higher wage than your peers in the Midwest. Contractors in the Southwest states reported 2003 wage increases of 4.1 percent, and are anticipating at least an increase of 3.9 percent in 2004. The Northeast also expects an increase of 3.9 percent for 2004.

Bonuses for construction company staffs remained the same from last year’s survey to this year’s. But the number of companies offering bonuses decreased 15 percent.