For contractors with $25-100 million in work, the average
base salary is $87,883; for companies with revenues of $100-
250 million, the average base salary is $99,613; and the average base salary is $116,668 for contractors exceeding $250
million. Exhibit 4 shows that four of our benchmark accounting positions continue to support this premise.
Exhibit 4: 2009 Base Salary by Company Revenue
$33,999 $38,028 $39,809 $44,364
Base salaries are not the only segment of direct pay that
has recently ended in an upbeat position. For example,
bonuses for middle managers have continued to rise since
Exhibit 5 illustrates these trends for Accounting Managers
and Project Superintendents. As you can see, bonus payments (as a reward for a job well done) have been good,
so it will be interesting to see how 2009 and 2010 play out.
What the Past Tells Us
42,764 48,241 49,073
45,659 59,262 61,476
67,291 75,959 80,282
The cycle continues as the actual average pay increase for
construction decreased in 1990, followed by a decrease in
other industries in 1991. Construction bounced back in 1995
(others in 1996), and so on.
Historically, we know that during tough economic times, base
salaries continue to rise; benefit and “perk” packages tend to
re-adjust (by passing some of the cost along to employees);
and incentive/performance metrics change to address contractors’ most pressing business issues (getting new work, improving cash flow, and increasing profit margins).
We also know that, overall, construction responds with compensation changes faster than other industries. One of the advantages of having three decades of compensation data is the
ability to spot significant trends.
Getting eye strain yet? This one-year trend really becomes
obvious when you look at the actual data in Exhibit 6 and
then compare it to Exhibit 7, where construction data has
been shifted one year to the right.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find another industry
that gave contractors the same tip-off that construction data
gives to others? Then we could forecast the increase in construction wage activity and the demand for skilled professionals with a fair amount of accuracy.
continued on page 45
For example, we know that most contractors react to
changing economic conditions very quickly: it’s reflected
in their overall business decisions; it’s reflected in their
pay decisions; and, in fact, it’s necessary for their survival.
ONE YEAR AHEAD
Here’s another basic fact to consider: Construction salary
increases have reacted (either up or down) a full year before other industries.
Exhibit 5: Bonus Payments – National Average
You’ll get a sense of this important trend by comparing
PAS, Inc.’s middle management and professional staff
data with Worldat Work’s exempt level data (shown in
Exhibit 6 on page 45).
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Construction pay increases dropped in 1985, while
other industries dropped in 1986. Then, construction
pay increases rose in 1988, while other industries began their comeback in 1989.