On This PageJuly 2000, No. 155

Understanding the (Relative) Rise and Fall of Construction Wages
Last Updated: 06/15/00

Over the last four years, wages of construction workers have risen modestly relative to those of other workers, partially reversing what had been a nearly continuous 25 year decline. The ratio of average hourly earnings in the construction industry to that of all private production workers rose throughout the 1960s. In the early 1970s, when the construction industry was at the center of the concerns that led to the imposition of wage and price controls, construction workers earned about 45% more per hour than the average worker. Following that peak, however, relative construction wages declined steadily until 1995 when they were only 15% above average. The recent rebound has seen that figure increase to about 17%.