Collectively Bargained First-Year Increases Remain Steady at 2.9%

February 24, 2020

Construction-industry collective bargaining negotiations completed in 2019 resulted in an average first-year increase in wages and fringe benefits of $1.67 or 2.9 percent, according to the annual year-end Settlements Report issued by the AGC-supported Construction Labor Research Council (“CLRC”). 

Despite “a well-documented shortage of craft workers, this modest rate of growth in employee compensation indicates that the worker shortage is not putting strong upward pressure on pay,” observes CLRC. “In fact, the 2019 first year average percent increase was no higher than [in] 2018.”  In the pre-recession era of 2006–2008, average negotiated increases topped 4.0 percent per year. 

That said, CLRC also notes that the plurality of first-year increases negotiated in 2019 was in the 3.1–3.5 percent range and that the number of increases exceeding 4.0 percent has ticked up for at least the past three years.

Looking at dollar amounts, CLRC reports that about half (49 percent) of first-year settlements ranged from $1.51 to $2.25 and about a third (35 percent) were lower than $1.51. The $2.76--$3.00 range has been growing in popularity, CLRC says.

Regionally, the highest average first-year percent increases in 2019 came from the Southwest Pacific (AZ, CA, HI, NV) and Northwest (AK, ID, OR, and WA) Regions. The smallest increases came from the Middle Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA) and South Central (AR, LA, NM, OK, TX) Regions.

The craft that negotiated the highest average first-year percent increase in 2019 was the Teamsters at 3.5 percent, and the lowest was the Boilermakers at 2.1 percent.  In 2018, the Teamsters (along with the Plasterers) negotiated the lowest average increase at just 2.0 percent.

The full report, with special city detail available only to CLRC-supporting organizations, is accessible to AGC members and chapter staff from AGC’s online Labor & HR Topical Resources library under the main category “Collective Bargaining” and subcategory “Collective Bargaining Agreements Data.”  You must be logged in as an AGC member to access the material.  

Collective bargaining chapters are reminded to please send new contract data directly to CLRC promptly upon settlement of collective bargaining negotiations.  Chapters and members are also reminded that CLRC offers consulting and custom research services on local matters at a discount to AGC affiliates. 

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