A recent report from RENTCafe looked at what occupations certain big cities rewarded more than other locations. And for the Chicago metro, it’s clear that not only is the rising cost of construction labor not a fantasy, but tradesmen around the country should be eyeing the area for better opportunities.
Drawing on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, RENTCafe subtracted the average cost of living per metro from the average net income per professional field to calculate the average amount of money left each year. The cost of living figures were derived from MIT data, including the minimum price for food, health insurance, housing, transportation and other living expenses, as well as income taxes.
The Chicago-Naperville-Elgin MSA is the best metro in the country for people working in “Construction & Extraction.” As defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s a broad collection of professions that contains everything from boilermakers and bricklayers to terrazzo workers and tile setters. The category encompasses over 5.7 million employees in the country, making a median income of $49,930.
But a higher wage and relatively low cost of living in Chicago makes the region ideal for these workers. Here they are left with the most money ($36,700) after covering living expenses ($24,400) out of all the metros that RENTCafe looked at. And at $61,100, the average salary for a construction worker in Chicago is well ahead of the national pace.
Construction workers actually have their pick of the Midwest, as the top three metros in this category are in the middle of the country. The St. Louis MSA came in second with $27,500 left after $20,800 in expenses and the Twin Cities had similar numbers: $27,200 in salary left over after accounting for $22,000 in living expenses. However, the total wages for these metros—$48,300 and $49,200, respectively—are closer to the national average and well below the Chicago-area salary that construction workers command.