Freelance Builder Pay Trends: August 2020

8 out of 10 subbies back on building sites

Demand for labour in the UK construction industry has recovered 79 per cent of pre-lockdown capacity, Hudson Contract can reveal.

We made a total of 117,591 payments to freelance operatives in August, compared to a peak of 149,067 in February and a trough of 80,625 in April.

The bounce-back points to a V-shaped recovery for the construction sector.

Ian Anfield, managing director, said: “There is no shortage of work for highly skilled tradespeople, whether they are groundworkers, bricklayers, plasterers or plumbers.

“Building sites are becoming more productive per head and the quality of work is improving because they only have the best lads working on them.

“Building firms have been tightening up on surplus labour because their margins are being squeezed by main contractors asking for discounts, social distancing measures on site and larger projects splitting into smaller schemes.”

Ian added the remaining proportion of people are choosing not to return to work as a result of state support schemes or seeking opportunities in other sectors.

Overall, average weekly earnings for subcontractors slipped by 1.3 per cent to £877 during the month of August, a similar drop to last year’s holiday season.

The best-performing regions were the North West (up 5.6 per cent), the North East (up 2 per cent) and London (up 0.3 per cent).

National weekly average earnings August 2020: £877
Region August 2020 Average Month on Month % Change Year on Year % Change
North East £765 2.0% -2.9% 
North West £871 5.6% 1.3% 
Yorkshire & Humber £812 -2.9% -4.4% 
East Midlands £851 -2.9% -8.6% 
West Midlands £905 -1.8% -6.2% 
Wales £833 -3.5% 12.2% 
East of England £934 -3.3% -0.3% 
London £902 0.3% 1.1% 
South East £923 -3.7% 2.4% 
South West £825 -6.3% 1.5% 

To view our interactive pay trends map click here

As the biggest payer of subcontractors, we provide the most accurate indication of pay trends across the construction industry and publish the average pay for a spectrum of 17 different trades split across 10 regions in England and Wales.

Hudson supplies statistics to the Bank of England to keep policymakers updated with real-time insights on demand for skilled labour.

Our updates regularly grace the pages of the national media.

Hudson Contract’s ‘Window on the Construction Industry’ gives you hard figures and data that is not available from any other source, with pay averages that reflect the amounts paid by a sample number of businesses – large and small – to specific trades during 2020.

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