For construction labor, the pain brought on by the recession is being felt in the paycheck. While unemployment remains historically high and contractor backlogs evaporate, most workers see limited increases in wages and fringes, and many are seeing wages frozen or even cut.
The outlook is similar for both open- shop and union contractors. Open-shop contractors expect to increase wages by an average of 1.84% this year, including firms that are giving no increase, according to the 2010 Merit Shop Wage and Benefit Survey compiled by Personnel Administration Services of Saline, Mich. Among union shops, wage and benefit settlements for the first three quarters of 2010 have yielded an average first-year increase of 1.3%, according to a September survey by the Construction Labor Research Council in Washington, D.C.