The Best-Paying Cities for Construction Workers

Note: This is the most recent release of our Best-Paying Cities for Construction Workers study. To see data from previous years, please visit the Full Results section below.

According to recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau, total construction spending in the United States amounted to $917.4 billion during the first six months of 2023. While this total only represents a 2.5% inflation-adjusted increase over the same period in 2022, inflation-adjusted construction spending has increased by over 16.5% from the same period in 2020—when the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic halted economic activity, disrupted supply chains, and dramatically altered spending patterns.

A major portion of this increased construction spending is attributable to heightened investment in the residential housing sector. After over a decade of underinvestment in new residential housing—as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis and housing market crash—new housing starts have steadily increased. And although rising interest rates are taking a toll on the economy as a whole, there have been signs of growth in new housing construction.

Cyclical Changes in Construction Employment

Construction employment is at an all-time high
Construction employment is at an all-time high. Image Credit: Construction Coverage

Increased spending in the residential housing sector and across the construction industry as a whole also bodes well for construction employment. The construction industry is notoriously sensitive to changes in the broader economy—typically declining well before an official recession and taking longer to recover from it than average. However, after a sharp decline during the pandemic where total construction employment sank to 6.5 million, employment in the construction industry recovered rapidly. In fact, employment in the sector has surpassed pre-COVID levels, and as of July 2023, there were over 7.9 million people employed in construction, an all-time high.

Demand for construction workers translates to strong wages. The construction industry generally compensates its workers well, especially when considering that few construction occupations require a postsecondary degree. On a national level, full- and part-time wage and salary construction workers earn a median of $50,570 per year, which is about 9% more than the median wage of $46,310 for all occupations.


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Real Construction Wages Vary by Location

Illinois is the best-paying state for construction workers
Illinois is the best-paying state for construction workers. Image Credit: Construction Coverage

At the state level, the Midwest is home to some of the highest wages for construction workers after adjusting for the cost of living. Illinois leads the country with a cost-of-living adjusted median annual wage of $73,630, with Minnesota ($63,390), North Dakota ($62,336), Wisconsin ($61,877), and Ohio ($61,141) all ranking among the top 10 states. Conversely, the South has the lowest cost-adjusted wages for construction workers. In fact, the South accounts for all of the bottom 10 states for this ranking, with Arkansas ($44,217), Florida ($44,602), and Alabama ($45,961) providing the lowest adjusted wages for construction workers in the country.

Similar trends hold at the local level where metropolitan areas in the South—especially those in Florida, Texas, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Alabama—are some of the worst-paying, even when factoring in their lower living costs. Midwestern locations, on the other hand, are disproportionately represented among the best-paying. However, when looking at the nation’s largest metros with more than one million residents, a number of coastal cities also rank highly despite their high living costs. These include San Jose, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, and New York.

Below is a complete breakdown of cost-of-living-adjusted construction worker pay across more than 350 metropolitan areas (grouped by size) and all 50 states. The analysis was conducted by researchers at Construction Coverage using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and U.S. Census Bureau. For more information, refer to the methodology section.

Best & Worst Large Metros for Construction Worker Pay

Top MetrosWage*
1. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI$74,021
2. Urban Honolulu, HI$69,183
3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$67,160
4. Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH$66,834
5. St. Louis, MO-IL$64,429
6. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI$64,162
7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA$63,840
8. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI$63,087
9. Columbus, OH$62,721
10. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$62,613
11. Cleveland-Elyria, OH$62,557
12. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA$62,166
13. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT$61,890
14. Pittsburgh, PA$60,828
15. Kansas City, MO-KS$60,824
Bottom MetrosWage*
1. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL$43,076
2. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX$45,189
3. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL$45,574
4. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL$45,622
5. Jacksonville, FL$45,791
6. Austin-Round Rock, TX$46,890
7. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX$46,952
8. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX$47,374
9. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD$47,957
10. Richmond, VA$48,040
11. Raleigh, NC$48,125
12. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC$48,478
13. Birmingham-Hoover, AL$48,605
14. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA$48,651
15. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC$49,045

*Median annual wage for construction workers (adjusted for cost of living)


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Best & Worst Midsize Metros for Construction Worker Pay

Top MetrosWage*
1. Peoria, IL$77,996
2. Toledo, OH$67,975
3. Trenton, NJ$66,394
4. Anchorage, AK$65,393
5. Springfield, MA-CT$64,506
6. Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL$64,008
7. Worcester, MA-CT$62,819
8. Canton-Massillon, OH$62,756
9. New Haven, CT$62,351
10. Madison, WI$61,906
11. Akron, OH$61,815
12. Flint, MI$61,653
13. Lansing-East Lansing, MI$60,642
14. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY$60,087
15. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT$60,028
Bottom MetrosWage*
1. El Paso, TX$39,857
2. Brownsville-Harlingen, TX$40,721
3. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL$40,965
4. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC$41,209
5. Ocala, FL$41,488
6. Port St. Lucie, FL$41,537
7. Tallahassee, FL$41,654
8. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX$42,105
9. Killeen-Temple, TX$42,858
10. Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL$43,050
11. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR$43,864
12. Montgomery, AL$44,048
13. Jackson, MS$44,202
14. Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL$44,370
15. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL$44,665

*Median annual wage for construction workers (adjusted for cost of living)

Best & Worst Small Metros for Construction Worker Pay

Top MetrosWage*
1. Rockford, IL$77,853
2. Decatur, IL$77,684
3. Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ$76,632
4. Champaign-Urbana, IL$76,285
5. Carbondale-Marion, IL$75,576
6. Springfield, IL$73,474
7. Kankakee, IL$72,751
8. Bloomington, IL$72,521
9. Duluth, MN-WI$71,033
10. St. Cloud, MN$69,595
11. Mankato-North Mankato, MN$68,345
12. Rochester, MN$67,448
13. Oshkosh-Neenah, WI$66,080
14. Longview, WA$66,058
15. Wheeling, WV-OH$65,712
Bottom MetrosWage*
1. Panama City, FL$40,621
2. Homosassa Springs, FL$40,906
3. The Villages, FL$41,053
4. Hot Springs, AR$41,329
5. Hattiesburg, MS$41,476
6. Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC$41,623
7. Wichita Falls, TX$41,796
8. Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL$42,415
9. Dothan, AL$42,505
10. Lubbock, TX$42,641
11. Laredo, TX$42,673
12. Valdosta, GA$42,749
13. Waco, TX$42,846
14. Abilene, TX$43,019
15. Sherman-Denison, TX$43,042

*Median annual wage for construction workers (adjusted for cost of living)

Best & Worst States for Construction Worker Pay

Top StatesWage*
1. Illinois$73,630
2. Hawaii$68,031
3. Alaska$65,263
4. Massachusetts$64,145
5. Minnesota$63,390
6. North Dakota$62,336
7. Wisconsin$61,877
8. Connecticut$61,421
9. Ohio$61,141
10. Washington$59,668
11. Missouri$59,421
12. Nevada$59,282
13. New Jersey$59,139
14. Indiana$58,565
15. Rhode Island$58,129
Bottom StatesWage*
1. Arkansas$44,217
2. Florida$44,602
3. Alabama$45,961
4. Mississippi$46,189
5. Texas$46,710
6. South Carolina$46,844
7. Virginia$46,902
8. Georgia$48,307
9. North Carolina$48,324
10. Maryland$48,398
11. New Hampshire$49,332
12. Vermont$49,544
13. Tennessee$49,926
14. Arizona$50,144
15. Maine$50,203

*Median annual wage for construction workers (adjusted for cost of living)


To determine the best-paying metros for construction workers, researchers at Construction Coverage analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’s 2022 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Regional Price Parities, and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The researchers ranked metropolitan areas according to the cost-of-living adjusted median annual wage for construction workers. For the purposes of this analysis, construction workers were considered to be all wage and salary workers for nonfarm establishments with occupations classified under the Construction and Extraction Occupations major occupation group. In the event of a tie, the location with the larger unadjusted median annual wage for construction workers was ranked higher.

Only metropolitan areas with available data and with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Cost of living statistics for New England City and Town Areas (NECTAs) were calculated using data for equivalent Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), where applicable. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size: 

  • Small metros: 100,000-349,999
  • Midsize metros: 350,000-999,999
  • Large metros: 1,000,000 or more


  1. U.S. Census Bureau. (2023, August 1). Monthly Construction Spending, June 2023.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau. (2020, August 3). Monthly Construction Spending, June 2020.
  3. Reuters. (2023, June 20). New US home construction surges by most in 3 decades in May.
  4. Hadi, A. (2011, April). Construction employment peaks before the recession and falls sharply throughout it. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review.
  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022). Employment Projections: Education and training assignments by detailed occupation [Data set].
  6. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022). Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics [Data set].
  7. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. (2022). Regional Price Parities by State and Metro Area [Data set].
  8. U.S. Census Bureau. (2021). American Community Survey [Data set].

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