B.C. construction wages top at $50 per hour
January 5, 2021
Construction wages are rising in British Columbia as the industry faces a shortfall of workers, according to a survey of 1,000 B.C. construction firms by the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).
The ICBA’s 2021 Wage and Benefits survey found that the average hourly wage across all trades surveyed exceeds $30, with the upper end of the wage range for top-earning refrigeration and HVAC tradespeople now just north of $50. While wage growth increased at a lower level in 2020 compared to recent years, recent and projected increases are otherwise comfortably outpacing inflation, the report stated.
In releasing the report December 29, ICBA president Chris Gardner noted, “It seems counter-intuitive to expect wages to jump 7.7 per cent over the next two years at the same time employers are planning for less construction work, but that is how tight the B.C. labour market has become.”
Construction in B.C. now employs more than 240,000 people and accounts for 9 per cent of provincial GDP. Survey respondents said they expect to give their workers a 3.5 per cent raise in 2021; in 2022, they expect another 4.2 per cent increase.
The effects of COVID-19 were felt by construction companies, which limited 2020 pay increases to 0.5 per cent. Companies also report fewer tenders for new projects; just 38 per cent of companies expect more work in 2021 than they had in 2020.
The survey showed there is still strong demand for workers in all regions of the province. Every single glazing, insulation, and steel company surveyed noted they needed more glaziers, insulators and steel fabricators respectively. 94 per cent of mobile crane/equipment companies said they needed more skilled operators; 92 per cent of roofing companies are looking for roofers, and 91 per cent of pipefitter employers are on the hunt for more labour.
“If you’re looking for work, construction in B.C. remains a strong option,” said Gardner. “British Columbia is going over a demographic cliff, with a workforce that is rapidly aging out. There is incredible opportunity in construction for young people, entrepreneurs and skilled trades workers.”