2020 Construction Compensation Trend | COVID-19 Construction Survey

New Construction Compensation Study Gives Insights on Pay, Benefits, and Trends

Published on by Dan Holthaus in Construction

New Construction Compensation Study Gives Insights on Pay, Benefits, and Trends

Record-Breaking Number of Participants

Request the 2020 Study here.

A record-breaking 68 companies participated in the new 2020 Construction Industry Compensation Benchmark Study, providing insight into compensation, benefits, and overall trends for both general and specialty contractors.

General and Specialty Contractors and a Balance of Contract Sizes

The study, sponsored by Barnes Dennig, North Side Bank, and USI insurance, reflects a good split between specialty trade (56%) and general contractors (46%). The respondents’ type of work is concentrated in commercial (79%) and institutional (59%), with some doing work in civil (21%) and residential (19%). The study also shows a balance in the size of contracts, with the largest group in the $10-$25.9 million (23%), followed by $26-$50.9 million and $51-$100 million (21% each), and contractors with more than $100 million (16%).

A Rapidly Changing Environment

Conducted as COVID-19 closures and stay-at-home orders were coming into play, between March 3 and April 16th, a few of the questions include responses that may have changed since the survey response was submitted. For example, 60% of survey respondents expected future employee levels to increase (down from 74% in 2018) – that answer might be different if a participant responded on March 3 versus April 16th, when the extent of the pandemic’s impact was becoming more apparent.

Fortunately, the majority of survey results are not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the detailed compensation information for the 13 positions in the survey, from President/CEO to Accounting Clerk. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of positions had an increase in the average base compensation from 2018 to 2020.

Factors to Keep in Mind

There are some decreases, such as the Controller position for contractors over $26 million, under $26 million, and specialty trade. Upon further analysis, we determined that these unusual decreases were a result of the 68 participants not being the same participants as in 2018. It’s important to keep the variation of participants in mind in analyzing survey results, especially in the current environment as contractors take a close look at salaries and benefits and make crucial business decisions.

Creating Competitive Advantage

As the industry looks ahead to what is expected to be a challenging time, 69% of respondents expected their revenue to be the same or increase from 2019 to 2020. There is no way of telling as of today if those projections still hold true for the survey participants. However, one thing most have in common is citing their top operational issue as attracting and retaining qualified personnel (87%). As the industry enters a tough period, it’s critical to continually examine compensation and benefits packages to attract and retain top talent, and using relevant information such as our compensation benchmarking report is an excellent tool for creating and maintaining a competitive edge.

Want to learn more or use the construction compensation benchmarking report to create competitive advantage? Request a copy of the report now. You can also get access to the webinar recording and slides, or talk with a Barnes Dennig construction industry expert to go beyond the numbers in finding ways to navigate the road ahead.


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