News Story

Happy Days Are Here For State’s Road Builders And Workers

Jobs and pay on the upswing

The number of jobs in highway, street, and bridge construction has risen in Michigan, and the average pay for those workers is also up, according to quarterly employment and wage data reported by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were 5,421 people employed in Michigan highway, street and bridge construction in in 2018, up from 5,154 in 2017, according to the BLS.

But the more dramatic jump is seen in the industry’s employment record over the last five years.

In 2013, there were 3,852 Michigan road and bridge construction jobs. That number rose by 41 percent by the end of 2018.

Interestingly, while employment in the industry has increased, the number of employers in the road building business has gone down.

There were 279 construction firms doing highway, street, and bridge construction in Michigan in 2001; by 2018, there were just 199 such businesses here, according to BLS data.

Lance Binoniemi, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, says he’s not surprised.

“In 2008 and 2009, when the recession hit, we had a lot of smaller companies get bought out by the larger firms. It was just sort of a sign of the times,” Binoniemi said. “But we have increased our budget pretty significantly since then. So it doesn’t surprise me that there are more workers in the industry.”

The average annual pay of employees working in the road construction sector has jumped nearly 25 percent since 2012.

Road workers were earning an annual average of $66,913 in 2012, but by 2018, the average had risen to $83,497.

The North American Industry Classification System, which is the standard used by government agencies that collect, analyze, and publish U.S. economic statistics, includes those involved in building highways, streets, roads, airport runways, public sidewalks, and bridges under the classification of “Highway, Street, and Bridge Construction.”

The data includes specialty trade contractors, if the work they are doing is primarily related to one of the above activities, such as installing guardrails on highways.

Not included in this category are tunnel builders, bridge painters and the firms that install lights and road signals, for which data is assigned to other industry categories.