12 Best Cities for Construction Jobs in 2021

It’s no surprise that the construction job market took a significant hit in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Countless construction sites shut down due to government orders, projects were delayed and there were sharp increases in the prices of building materials and labor. As a whole, the American construction industry experienced a 9.7% increase in unemployment from 34.5% in 2019 to 44.2% in 2020. 

Fortunately, many workers are looking towards 2021 with a sense of hope, as sites open back up, companies start making equipment rentals again, and construction employment rebounds. With a new surge of job opportunities, it’s a great time to consider a career in construction. If you don’t know where to begin, we rounded up 12 cities to research based on employee wages, population and job availability.

First, let’s take a look at the impact that the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020 had on the industry overall.

The State of Construction Jobs in a Post-COVID-19 World

Despite improvement in many areas of the economy, nonresidential contractors are coping with widespread economic challenges. According to the analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), even though it’s predicted the construction industry will continue experiencing negative impacts due to the shift to remote work from 2019-2029, there are also positive signs for hopeful hardhats. 

There is still reason to be optimistic that construction job availability and salary ranges will be on the uptick, especially in certain cities. Thankfully, employment in construction is working its way back up to pre-pandemic levels slowly but steadily. Take a look at our visual guide on this topic here, too.

Employment in Construction January 2011 to February 2021

The 12 Best Cities for Construction Jobs

Based on a combination of information gathered from Glassdoor, the U.S. Census and the BLS, we narrowed down a list of 12 American cities ideal for finding a job in the field of construction. We considered salaries, the relative populations, the number of jobs available and signs of job growth in the area.

As of March 2021, Glassdoor reported the nationwide average salary for a construction worker to be $44,341. Salary shouldn’t be the only factor to determine whether or not a city is best for construction work opportunities, and the cost of living should be considered, but it’s a helpful indicator of the state of the economy and what’s to come in the construction sector. 

1. Los Angeles

Los Angeles Construction Jobs and Salary

Los Angeles is the pinnacle of construction development thanks to its adaptability to the new normal post-COVID-19. By leaning on digital solutions for getting permits, using touchless technologies as much as possible and molding their projects to satisfy consumer preferences, LA has one of the most resilient workforces. 

2. Chicago

Chicago Construction Jobs and Salary

Chicago is home to major infrastructure projects including revamping the city’s metro and adding lanes to the Eisenhower Expressway. Infrastructure comprises the largest share of construction, with residential and commercial projects relatively equal. Since construction costs are lower in the Windy City, job growth is more rapid. 

3. Seattle

Seattle Construction Jobs and Salary

Seattle’s educational and residential construction sectors are bouncing back. Also, there are always going to be signs of growth in the metro area that headquarters tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Google. There is particular optimism for construction project advancement and job growth in 2022.

4. San Francisco

San Francisco Construction Jobs and Salary

The pandemic-induced construction work decline in San Francisco is predicted to be short-lived. The construction job market is expected to expand by almost 14% in 2021, which helps compensate for the decline. Power plants and sewers are huge city-wide infrastructure projects, and residential construction is predicted to grow almost 28% in 2021.

5. Boston

Boston Construction Jobs and Salary

According to recent estimates, construction work in Boston is at the highest recorded in the past two decades. With Boston officials signing off on $8.5 billion in development projects in 2020, it’s a great sign for construction workers looking for a city with no shortage of commercial, residential and city-funded projects.

6. Philadelphia

Philadelphia Construction Jobs and Salary

The Philadelphia region is filled to the brim with both residential and commercial construction projects with the potential for work opportunities. It’s also helpful that the cost of living and construction expenses in Philadelphia are much better than  the tri-state area. Plus, the post-pandemic increase in corporate relocations have caused city dwellers from higher-cost statesm like New York to support the Philly construction job boom.

7. Denver

Denver Construction Jobs and Salary

Even though many American cities experienced negative impacts on commercial and multifamily construction across the country, Denver has been an exception. Tons of upcoming residential construction projects along with plans to build a light rail and I-70 highway point towards continued job opportunities. Plus, the city is trying to build a hyperloop to connect Denver to other cities in the Western U.S. 

8. New York

New York Construction Jobs and Salary

Despite construction employment declines in New York City and New York state as a whole (11% and 7% respectively), there are signs of a building boom in the second half of 2021 that is making New Yorkers hopeful of a construction jobs comeback. With New York being a magnet for some of the biggest mega construction projects worldwide, like Hudson Yards, it’s only a matter of time before job opportunities bounce back.

9. Portland

Portland Construction Jobs and Salary

Portland is expected to invest heavily in its infrastructure projects, even though residential construction is still the dominant construction sector. Bridges and high-speed rails across the Columbia River, as well as light rail construction, will help boost construction jobs. Fortunately, unemployment for tradesmen and construction workers is already low in Portland, too.

10. Minneapolis

Minneapolis Construction Jobs and Salary

The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area has exciting infrastructure projects driving upcoming construction work, like building the city’s light rail network and a new Google data center. Even though construction labor decreased in 2020 because of COVID-19, it’s returning to pre-pandemic levels and it looks like opportunities will continue to grow moving forward.

11. Riverside

Riverside Construction Jobs and Salary

Riverside’s wide array of city improvement projects that are part of their robust “Build Riverside” initiative indicate that this small metro area has strong potential for steady construction employment opportunities in 2021 and beyond.

12. Detroit

Detroit Construction Jobs and Salary

Detroit’s construction jobs outlook is positive thanks to an expected increase in medical construction projects and inventory warehouses as online shopping soars like never before. There’s a notable spike in demand for health care facilities other than hospitals, like nursing homes, urgent care clinics and more.

Our Methodology

Our findings revealed that some of America’s most populous and legendary cities including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Chicago, are pointing towards a promising future in terms of construction job availability in 2021 and beyond. 

In order to determine the best , BigRentz compared a sample of the 100 of the most populated U.S. cities, narrowing down the list to the top 12 cities with the most construction work opportunities and best salaries, using 2019 BLS data on construction laborers and 2021 Glassdoor data respectively.

We rated each city based on these two factors, weighed equally while factoring in cost of living:

  • Average salary for construction workers in the region
  • Average number of construction jobs available per month

The future finally looks bright, as some of the largest construction organizations like the Associated Builders and Contractors are investing more than one billion dollars annually in workforce development initiatives as roughly 430,000 employment opportunities emerge. 

In fact, there’s arguably never been a better time to consider working in construction, a career that offers competitive pay, advancement opportunities and encouraging construction trends

We hope this article was helpful and sparked some ideas for cities to think about pursuing. If you’re considering enrolling in trade school in the wake of the pandemic, you could be on the right track. No matter where you are in your career, check out our visual guide below with some strategies for success while navigating the post-COVID job market.

construction job boom infographic


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