California Is the 15th Worst-Paying State for Plumbers in the U.S. | State

While the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was a time many industries would like to soon forget, demand for plumbers and other local contractors reached an all-time high.

As homeowners had more time indoors, they began renovation projects and essential maintenance, increasing the need for skilled tradespeople. This surge in demand came at a time when various construction industries were already struggling with labor shortages. The result was strong upward pressure on the wages of skilled workers who remained in the workforce.

Demand for plumbers in context

Demand for plumbers has declined after a historic spike during COVID-19

Source: Construction Coverage analysis from Google Trends data | Photo credit: construction reporting

According to internet search data from Google, demand for local contractors surged in 2020, peaked in early 2021 and began to decline as rising interest rates limited construction projects. Still, current online searches for local contractors are still above pre-pandemic levels.

In particular, demand for plumbing companies is about twice that of the nearest construction industry – a fact that is due to the fact that plumbing plays a crucial role not only in new construction, but also in small remodels, ongoing maintenance and emergency repairs. Additionally, as water conservation programs become more important in certain parts of the country, homeowners are turning to plumbers for expertise in upgrading to more efficient systems.

As one of the most in-demand construction jobs, plumbing could be an attractive career field. As with many other service professions, becoming a plumber does not require a college degree. Rather, individuals can enroll in affordable vocational schools or take training to improve their skills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the typical plumber earns $60,090 annually, and the field is expected to grow 2% through 2032. This growth will create nearly 11,000 new plumbing jobs over the next nine years.

Geographic differences in plumber pay

Illinois has the highest cost-of-living adjusted wages for plumbers

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Source: Construction Coverage analysis of US Bureau of Labor Statistics data | Photo credit: construction reporting

Nationally, plumbers earn about 30% more than the typical worker, according to the BLS. And while national-level data suggests that plumbing jobs pay above average, state-level data shows that it is a very regional industry, with plumbers in the northern half of the U.S. earning far more than their counterparts in the South.

Adjusted for cost of living, the top five states are Illinois ($97,000), Montana ($81,776), Alaska ($80,554), Oregon ($77,588) and Minnesota ($77,157). average annual wages for plumbers. These states stand in stark contrast to the states with the lowest adjusted wages: Florida ($47,481) and Virginia ($49,375). The difference between the upper and lower states is so great that the adjusted annual wage for plumbers in Illinois is higher than in Florida and Virginia combined.

Similar trends can be seen locally, with many metropolitan areas in Illinois and Minnesota ranking near the top in plumber wages. In top metropolitan areas, the typical plumber can expect to make over $100,000 per year. In general, the best-paying locations for plumbers are more likely to have high union rates and a reasonable cost of living. The analysis was conducted by Construction Coverage using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Here is a summary of the data for California:

  • Average annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $56,048
  • Average annual wage for plumbers (actual): $62,660
  • Average annual wage of all employees (actual): $49,740
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): -21%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): +11.8%

For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:

  • Average annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $60,090
  • Average annual wage for plumbers (actual): $60,090
  • Average annual wage of all employees (actual): $46,310
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): N/A
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): N/A

For more information, detailed methodology and complete results, see “The Best Paying Cities for Plumbers in Construction Insurance.”

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