Freelance Builder Pay Trends: March 2019

Hudson Contract delivers the most accurate indications of pay trends across the construction industry, using payroll data for over 2,200 construction companies to publish the average pay for a spectrum of 17 different trades now split across ten regions.

Freelance builder demand across the country remained firm in March – particularly in the South-West, South-East, and East of England – with average national weekly earnings rising to £899. 

“The only region noticeably off trend is London,” Hudson Contract Managing Director Ian Anfield observes.  “And it’s nothing more serious than a drop of £10 a week.  I believe it’s probably down to a combination of political uncertainty, a slowing housing market, and perhaps even the long-awaited sign-off on the new Spurs stadium, which had been keeping many labour-only subbies in continuous work.

“I think, too, that Brexit anxiety is felt more keenly in the capital than elsewhere, with a variety of commercial projects on hold right now as businesses step back from new investment.  So while many would expect London to lead the way with subbies’ earnings, the reality is that demand is currently strongest of all in the East of England.”

National Weekly Average Earnings March 2019: £899
Region March 2019 Average Change from February 2019
North East £780.00 +2.0%
North West £801.00 +2.2%
Yorkshire & Humber £842.00 +0.1%
East Midlands £912.00 -0.1%
West Midlands £954.00 +0.7%
Wales £823.00 +0.9%
East of England £965.00 +2.1%
London £903.00 -1.1%
South East £903.00 +2.8%
South West £811.00 +3.0%

To view our interactive pay trends map click here

March Winners

  • Mechanical & Engineering: +7.4%
    Strong gains in the North and East
  • Bricklaying: +4.8%
    Construction’s barometer rises
  • Shopfitting: +4.8%
    Optimism from West Midlands retailers

And the losers:

  • Insulation: -2.7%
    Down £26 on last month
  • Steel & Timber Frame Erection: -2.7%
    Drops seen particularly in Wales
  • Plastering: -2.5%
    Softening demand in North-West and Wales

From the national perspective, the latest IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Total Activity Index is also up slightly from 49.5 to 49.7 – although any number below 50 indicates a downturn. 

Ian Anfield comments:  “Residential outside London remains stable, but the fall in civil engineering work is likely caused by some large, government-led infrastructure projects winding down, whilst new projects like HS2 are still in their early stages. 

“We are also seeing tier two contractors pricing up work for the tier one contractors to reflect the risk of dealing with the financially troubled outsourcing sector.  Meanwhile, the weak pound is increasing the cost of importing steel, concrete, plaster and plastic building products, all of which have been in demand by those who have been stocking up on materials to mitigate against a possible No Deal EU exit.

“I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve written about continuing Brexit uncertainty, but no matter what does – or does not happen – we can at least be sure the industry will continue to rely on self-employed construction workers and the highly-skilled, specialist labour they supply.”

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 March 2019.

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