Data: Plumbers bask in post-COVID demand boom, pay tops $100K in some markets

·3 min read

In the midst of a widespread worker shortage buffeting the economy and driving up costs, plumbers appear to be in especially high demand — with some states being more lucrative for the profession than others, new data show.

According to a recent analysis by Construction Coverage, Google searches for plumbers have skyrocketed to their highest levels in 5 years, an indication of soaring demand for service workers and skilled labor.

The data show that the Midwest is a boon for plumbers, who tend to make considerably more than those in more populous metropolitan areas like the mid-Atlantic and the Southwest.

Construction Coverage found that “while the national-level data indicates that being a plumber provides above-average pay, state-level data shows a highly regional industry where plumbers in the Midwest make far more than their counterparts in the Southwest, Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic.”

Citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Construction Coverage found that the average U.S. plumber earns over $56,000 per year, and the industry is expected to create nearly 21,000 new jobs in the next eight years.

However, in states like Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, the annual median wage for plumbers is well above average, the study found. Prairie State plumbers topped the list with an adjusted salary of $95,544, followed by Alaska ($83,730) and Minnesota ($80,408).

In contrast, places like Florida ($43,119), New Mexico ($48,079), and North Carolina ($48,288) offer salaries paying far less than what a plumber could make in the Midwest.

Depending on the region, plumbers can earn a pretty penny, and far more than the industry's average.
Depending on the region, plumbers can earn a pretty penny, and far more than the industry's average.

The booming market for plumbing underscores how 2020 was a record-breaking year for home improvements, spurred mainly by COVID-19 lockdowns. In a separate study, Harvard University researchers found that Americans shelled out nearly $420 billion on their homes last year, much of it on do-it-yourself (DIY) projects.

Although many professional remodeling projects came to a halt when the pandemic hit, DIY home improvement renovations surged. The sudden flexibility of remote work also increased demand for larger homes and yards in less dense areas of the country.

Taken together with the Construction Coverage data, it suggests that homeowners are making up for lost time by hiring home-related contract workers at a furious pace. 

Yet like many other industries, there seems to be an insufficient pool of qualified workers in the plumbing field. The National Homebuilder’s Association’s Spring 2021 Construction Market Report found a stunning 55% shortage of plumbers available for work.

With the lack of new entrants to fill job needs, labor costs are soaring, delays are becoming prevalent and existing talent is becoming overworked. To combat this challenge, some business owners have had to think creatively about how to attract qualified talent.

Dale Jackson, owner of Jackson Services Co., a plumbing and electrical company in Georgia, told Yahoo! Finance recently that he started a new incentive that would pay a referral bonus to lure more workers.

Yet, the demand for skilled labor continues to outpace the supply of workers. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Q1 2021 Commercial Construction Index, 75% of builders say they are asking their contractors to do more work than usual to keep up with demand.

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @daniromerotv

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