Block wall in construction, a hand holding a trowel laying on wet mortar is in the bottom left

As inflation and the cost of living continues to rise, many are understandably concerned as current salary levels fail to keep pace across a large portion of professions in the UK.

With the situation showing no signs of shifting any time soon, a growing number of people are being forced to reconsider their current careers.

Earlier this year, research from Totaljobs found that more than a third of surveyed UK workers had thought about changing jobs, expressing concerns about current wages not rising in line with inflation.

However, there are a select few industries where salaries are generally keeping up with the soaring costs, construction being one of these, alongside recruitment, drivers and various hospitality roles. 

Construction wages keeping pace

According to Indeed’s latest data, pay for construction workers had increased by around 7.4% in May, compared to the same time twelve months before. 

Self-employed labour rates, in particular, have maintained strong performance throughout 2022, with a number of key trades exceeding the general cost of living rises and the average weekly salary of freelance subcontractors increasing to £918. 

Demolition workers, plasterers, plumbers, roofers and scaffolders, on average, have seen their pay over the course of the year stay ahead of the UK’s official inflation rate, which currently sits at 9.4% (June 2022).

The findings from industry payroll specialist Hudson Contract (via Construction Enquirer) found that from May 2021 to May 2022, demolition & wrecking wages had risen by 11.1%, plastering by 12.2%, plumbing by 10.1%, roofing by 11.9% and scaffolding & lifting by 10.3%. 

Delays to home improvement work brought about by the pandemic have led to increased demand across many trades, which has undoubtedly played a key role in these sizable wage jumps. 

Other key trades have maintained strong pay rates, with electrical and joinery seeing a slight increase at £1,071 and £1,029 per week, respectively. 

Which trades have been hit hardest?

While the picture was largely a positive one when compared to other industries, a small number of trades have not fared as well in terms of weekly salaries. 

In that same year-long period, the average self-employed bricklayer wage had dropped by 4.2%, mechanical and engineering dropped by 5.3% and steel & timber frame erection by 4.6%. Surfacing contractor wages were also down by 1.1%. 

What does the next year look like?

While challenging times lay ahead for the construction industry in terms of rising materials and energy costs, supply chain issues and labour shortages, the industry as a whole is expected to expand by 3.4% in real terms in 2022.

And while the industry is expected to remain below pre-pandemic levels until 2023, GlobalData predicts output this year will be just 0.7% below the levels in 2019. According to the Office for National Statistics, new housing is the leading driver of activity, followed by private commercial and new infrastructure work.