Construction workers are directly responsible for erecting buildings, highways and other structures. They perform hands-on labor at construction sites. Construction laborers use various tools on the job, including nail guns, cement mixers and measuring equipment. Work can be dangerous, so construction laborers have to follow strict safety procedures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction work has one of the highest rates of nonfatal injuries.
Construction laborers earned a mean hourly wage of $15.96 and a mean, or average, annual salary of $33,190 in May 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Annual wages for the middle 50 percent of construction laborers ranged from $22,700 to $39,750. The lowest 10 percent of employees earn less than $18,430 and the top 10 percent of employees earn more than $56,270.
The PayScale website lists the hourly rate of construction workers according to their years of experience. In October 2010, construction workers with less than one year of experience earned $9.92 to $16.02 an hour. Those with one to four years of experience earned $10.04 to $16.11 an hour; five to nine years, $10.69 to $17.25 an hour; 10 to 19 years, $14.86 to $22.86 an hour; and 20 years or more, $15.47 to $25.72 an hour.
The specialty trade contractors industry employed the largest number of construction laborers with an average annual salary of $32,550, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2009. Other industries that employed large numbers were: nonresidential building construction, $35,840; foundation, structure and building exterior contractors, $32,370; residential building construction, $31,540; and highway, street and bridge construction, $37,290.
The motion picture and video industries paid the highest average annual salary to construction laborers, with $63,360, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2009. Other industries that offered high pay were: rail transportation, $47,470; electric power generation, transmission and distribution, $44,230; natural gas distribution, $43,710; and management of companies and enterprises, $42,820.
Hawaii paid the highest average annual salary above all other states to construction laborers, with $49,400, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2009. Other states that offered high pay were: Alaska, $49,190; New York, $47,440; Massachusetts, $46,810; and New Jersey, $46,620.