August 11, 2006 / Issue No. 1-06
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Workforce Development, Open Shop, and Union Contractors Committees to Meet During AGC’s 2006 Midyear Meeting
Register Now for AGC’s August 23 Immigration Compliance Audio Conference
Interim Rule on Electronic Storage of I-9 Forms Now in Effect
DHS Announces New Program to Help Employers Avoid Hiring Unauthorized Workers
Open Shop Craft Wages to Rise Over 4.4%, Construction Staff Wages to Rise Over 4.0%
Early Collective Bargaining Yields Average First-Year Increase of 4.6% This Year
AGC Joins DOL’s Drug-Free Workplace Alliance
Building Trades Launch National Drug & Alcohol Program for CURT Projects
Contractor is Bound to Laborers Throughout State Despite Union Indication That Agreement was for Project Only
AGC Delivers Union Contractor Concerns to New Basic Trades Group
Congress Passes AGC-Supported Reform of Multiemployer Pension Laws

  Open Shop Craft Wages to Rise Over 4.4%, Construction Staff Wages to Rise Over 4.0%

Open-shop wages are expected to rise an average of 4.4 percent in 2006 (or 4.3 percent when instances of zero increases are excluded), according to the 2006 Merit Shop Wage and Benefit Survey conducted by PAS, Inc.  An increasing demand for skilled workers may cause the national average to end up even higher by year end, possibly hitting the 5 percent mark, forecasts PAS.

This is particularly a problem in the Gulf Coast region, where post-hurricane reconstruction is underway.  Employers there are turning to “creative” supplemental pay practices to entice workers into the area, reports PAS in its latest Contractor Compensation Quarterly.  Across the nation, 36 percent of contractors provide some type of supplemental pay or expense offset, states PAS. 

The following table lists current and 2005 national average hourly wage rate for selected positions:




All Crafts



General Laborer 















HVAC Mechanic



On a positive note, PAS advises that, while increases in wages and salaries continued at a moderate pace, sharp increases in benefit costs have slowed to more moderate pace.  According to the Employer Cost Index for all civilian and private industry workers, benefit costs rose 3.4 percent for the year ended June 2006, slowing sharply from 5.0 percent the prior year and 7.1 percent the year before that. 

The situation is less positive when the impact of inflation is examined.  Inflation, as measured by the Cost of Living Index, reached 4.3 percent as of June 2006, while wage increases for craft workers measured only 4.22 percent.  “While there is not a direct relation between rate of inflation and wages (benefits must be taken into account), there is cause for concern,” cautions PAS.  “Because of inflation, a four percent increase in 2006 is not much of an increase for the hourly worker…If the industry is to continue to attract highly skilled and motivated workers, then pay will have to continue to outpace inflation.”

Hiring difficulties are also expected to affect construction staff compensation, PAS found.  According to its 2006 Construction/Construction Management Staff Salary Survey, contractors are anticipated to pay an overall average increase of 4.0 percent this year for the 56 noncraft positions examined.  Again, PAS forecasts that actual increases will be higher, pointing to the inflation rate, good economic conditions, and Gulf Coast reconstruction efforts as causes. 

The following table lists current and 2005 national average base salaries for selected positions:




Project Manager 



Project Superintendent



Senior Estimator   



Office Manager 



Purchasing Agent 



Full reports – which cover employee benefit and other information, and which break down data by type of construction, geographic location, company size, and other characteristics – are  available for purchase from PAS.  AGC members that participated in the Merit Shop survey receive a substantial discount on the reports.  For more infomation on PAS reports, visit or call 1-800-553-4655. [ return to top ]