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Labor Rates Linked to Worker Shortages?

This month my message is about labor. If you find the people you need, what are they going to cost you?


In our Colorado market we have seen wage escalation over the last few years that had been unprecedented in the previous 20 years. It is asking a lot for everyone to keep in front of and stay on top of it, but I could not be happier for our employees and the craftworkers in our market. These increases are much deserved and warranted. For far too long wages for craftworkers have stagnated and rates have been falling behind other industries. Now, not only have our market wages caught up to other markets, we are starting to pull ahead. It bodes well for bringing more people into the wall and ceiling industry and more people into our market.


To try to put all of this into context I investigated our archives to see what our workers have been paid in the past. What I found is interesting. In 1975 our journeymen tapers and hangers made about $31,000 per year. This is the equivalent to $176,567 per year today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I have goose bumps thinking about that number. Can you imagine if our journeymen made $176,567 per year? Do you think we would face a scarcity of labor or have trouble bringing people into our trade at that rate?


A lot has happened since 1975 that puts our industry in this position concerning wages. Knowing the numbers gives us an opportunity to start working on solutions that will lead us back to wages that attract the best and the brightest to the wall and ceiling industry.


Just a reminder, AWCI’s national convention and trade show, Build23, is being held March 13-16 in Las Vegas. If you have not registered, make sure to do so because we have content for everyone in our industry. You will see a host of new products, be exposed to innovative ideas and leave with more knowledge than you came with. I look forward to seeing each of you there.

In addition to being 2022–2023 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Travis Vap is CEO of South Valley Drywall, Inc. in Littleton, Colo.

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