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Freelance Builder Pay Trends: October 2015

News and Views | 15th October 2015

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 the full spectrum of 17 different trades across five regions.

Last month, we reported that the £1,000-a-week freelance builder was almost upon us in the South-East. It hasn’t happened yet, but the milestone has almost been reached in the North-West, where shopfitters – traditionally the industry’s highest earners – have reached a weekly average of £966.

Across the board, however, the picture isn’t as rosy. Four of our five regions are down on the past three months, with only the North-East showing the smallest of increases at 0.11%.

“Generally speaking, earnings everywhere are much the same as they were three months ago,” says Hudson Contract Managing Director Ian Anfield. “However, the South-West has taken a bigger hit – on average, freelance builders there are £30 a week worse off. As you’d expect, those in the South-East are this month’s top earners, on roughly £750 a week, which leaves them £110 better off than their counterparts in the South-West.

“Looking at the individual trades, earnings for bricklayers in the South-West, and M&E and plasterers in the North-West have all dropped below £500 a week. And while all this might seem rather gloomy, the latest survey from Markit reports that confidence in the construction industry remains high and is actually rising. Whether this is a temporary setback or the start of an earnings plateau is something that will become clear over the next few months.”

This month’s winners and losers

Winners:

  • Shopfitters in the North-East: +17.5%
  • Electricians in the North-East +16.6%
  • Steel & Timber Frame Erectors in the Midlands: +15.5%

Losers

  • Roofers in the Midlands: -20.6%
  • Steel & Timber Frame Erectors in the North-East: -19.0%
  • Plasterers in the South-West: -15.9%

The bigger picture
As we enter the final quarter of the year, it’s worth drilling down into the earnings trend for 2015. Our league table of seventeen individual trades makes for positive reading – with one stand-out exception: scaffolders’ earnings have gone into reverse, with a 3% decline.

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As you can see, shopfitters, bricklayers and joiners are considerably better off, with earnings increases of over 10% – which translates to an extra £80 - £130 a week since January.

Across the board, average weekly earnings are £707, up 5% (£34 a week), which is well in excess of inflation.

NORTH EAST

  Last Month 3 months ago % change
Bricklaying £698.35 £670.42 4.17%
Civil Engineering £666.99 £674.39 -1.10%
Demolition £532.65 £475.06 12.12%
Electrical £759.33 £651.42 16.57%
Equipment & Operator hire £781.35 £874.71 -10.67%
Fit out by specialist trades £791.77 £841.97 -5.96%
General Construction £745.19 £757.84 -1.67%
Insulation £671.52 £681.62 -1.48%
Joinery £773.07 £680.92 13.53%
Mechanical £846.08 £786.41 7.59%
Plastering £708.37 £784.18 -9.67%
Plumbing £630.35 £610.86 3.19%
Roofing £685.59 £696.82 -1.61%
Scaffolding £584.46 £604.30 -3.28%
Shopfitting £833.86 £709.50 17.53%
Steel & Timber frame erect £623.65 £769.82 -18.99%
Surfacing contractors £712.47 £761.06 -6.38%
Average £708.53 £707.72 0.11%

NORTH WEST

  Last Month 3 months ago % change
Bricklaying £657.76 £659.81 -0.31%
Civil Engineering £624.82 £633.93 -1.44%
Demolition £728.89 £740.76 -1.60%
Electrical £761.77 £838.06 -9.10%
Equipment & Operator hire £708.22 £708.85 -0.09%
Fit out by specialist trades £726.92 £738.83 -1.61%
General Construction £725.75 £741.92 -2.18%
Insulation £719.67 £762.39 -5.60%
Joinery £730.68 £762.61 -4.19%
Mechanical £496.85 £553.90 -10.30%
Plastering £466.41 £488.02 -4.43%
Plumbing £577.30 £554.81 4.05%
Roofing £893.76 £912.19 -2.02%
Scaffolding £549.10 £552.80 -0.67%
Shopfitting £996.11 £960.35 3.72%
Steel & Timber frame erect £694.69 £704.05 -1.33%
Surfacing contractors £601.85 £608.29 -1.06%
Average £685.91 £701.27 -2.19%

MIDLANDS

  Last Month 3 months ago % change
Bricklaying £632.99 £715.29 -11.51%
Civil Engineering £756.10 £769.08 -1.69%
Demolition £795.11 £781.93 1.69%
Electrical £741.72 £753.88 -1.61%
Equipment & Operator hire £739.67 £734.83 0.66%
Fit out by specialist trades £862.79 £896.28 -3.74%
General Construction £727.36 £721.58 0.80%
Insulation £684.17 £707.87 -3.35%
Joinery £745.44 £714.13 4.38%
Mechanical £676.86 £691.61 -2.13%
Plastering £707.26 £704.44 0.40%
Plumbing £843.40 £859.39 -1.86%
Roofing £606.04 £762.84 -20.55%
Scaffolding £595.81 £625.22 -4.70%
Shopfitting £881.44 £868.21 1.52%
Steel & Timber frame erect £637.91 £552.53 15.45%
Surfacing contractors £838.52 £857.34 -2.20%
Average £733.68 £748.03 -1.92%

SOUTH EAST

  Last Month 3 months ago % change
Bricklaying £639.21 £685.01 -6.69%
Civil Engineering £709.32 £740.22 -4.17%
Demolition £660.69 £661.07 -0.06%
Electrical £919.87 £921.67 -0.20%
Equipment & Operator hire £817.84 £847.22 -3.47%
Fit out by specialist trades £673.05 £666.96 0.91%
General Construction £707.17 £727.55 -2.80%
Insulation £789.88 £785.49 0.56%
Joinery £849.70 £893.19 -4.87%
Mechanical £808.41 £826.90 -2.24%
Plastering £713.38 £685.87 4.01%
Plumbing £886.28 £881.47 0.55%
Roofing £644.75 £703.47 -8.35%
Scaffolding £715.65 £758.97 -5.71%
Shopfitting £946.91 £945.20 0.18%
Steel & Timber frame erect £661.03 £665.87 -0.73%
Surfacing contractors £631.04 £693.19 -8.97%
Average £751.42 £769.96 -2.41%

SOUTH WEST

  Last Month 3 months ago % change
Bricklaying £474.67 £485.45 -2.22%
Civil Engineering £636.36 £686.40 -7.29%
Demolition £620.98 £562.43 10.41%
Electrical £630.38 £681.03 -7.44%
Equipment & Operator hire £594.24 £595.71 -0.25%
Fit out by specialist trades £686.29 £695.90 -1.38%
General Construction £627.80 £644.92 -2.65%
Insulation £634.58 £658.49 -3.63%
Joinery £794.97 £800.48 -0.69%
Mechanical £690.08 £684.11 0.87%
Plastering £553.91 £658.41 -15.87%
Plumbing £621.43 £667.86 -6.95%
Roofing £670.53 £707.88 -5.28%
Scaffolding £591.20 £640.58 -7.71%
Shopfitting £825.82 £882.90 -6.47%
Steel & Timber frame erect £646.79 £738.23 -12.39%
Surfacing contractors £568.93 £614.97 -7.49%
Average £639.35 £670.93 -4.71%

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 over the twelve weeks to 30th September 2015.