Construction Sector

The construction sector includes establishments that are primarily engaged in constructing, repairing and renovating buildings and engineering works, and in subdividing and developing land. They sometimes work as sub-contractors for other companies. Firms in this industry may be responsible for constructing large projects from start to finish, or working on part of a project (for example, drywalling or painting).
One in 10 BC workers were employed in construction in 2008, the highest percentage on record.
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What are the most common occupations?

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The most common trades occupations include carpenters, trades helpers, contractors and supervisors, and other construction trades: plumbers, bricklayers, cabinetmakers, painters and electricians.

What is a typical wage?

  • Construction workers earned an average hourly wage of $23.00 for a typical 40 hour work week in 2008. This was $1.54 higher than the average BC wage.
  • Wages in construction have been climbing in recent years as the construction boom boosted the need for labour.
  • Workers in construction trades (including those employed in industries other than construction) earned an average wage of $21.68 per hour in 2008.
  • Trades helpers and construction labourers earned $18.44 per hour.

Wages in construction tend to be higher than in other industries.

What are the characteristics of the workforce?

  • The construction industry continues to be male-dominated, with men outnumbering women nine to one.
  • Nine out of 10 workers are employed full time.
  • 21% of workers in this industry have union coverage, considerably less than the provincial average of 31% in 2008.
  • Construction work involves at least some time spent outdoors—during the early stages of a building construction project, and for most of the time with many infrastructure and engineering projects.
  • This is one of the reasons why employment in this industry is quite seasonal, with the demand for workers typically peaking in the summer months, and dropping off at the beginning of the year.
  • Temporary employment is quite common in this industry.

The unemployment rate in construction is usually quite high, but in recent years it has fallen below the all-industry average.

Self-employment is far more common in construction than in most other industries.

Where are the jobs located?

  • Construction activity occurs in all parts of the province. Most of the residential, commercial and institutional buildings are located in the more densely populated areas of the province. However, the need for housing, schools, hospitals, and other buildings exists throughout the province.
  • Many heavy or engineering construction projects are built in more sparsely populated areas. Factories, gas distribution facilities, power generating stations, and dams, for example, are often built near a source of water, or near gas fields, or wherever the raw materials used in production are located.
  • 58% of workers in this industry are located in Mainland/Southwest, with Vancouver Island/Coast having just under a fifth of the work force.
  • Similar types of occupations can involve very different working conditions. For example: plumbers and pipefitters, both jobs require somewhat similar skills, but a plumber can probably count on being able to live and work in the same place. However, oipefitters may have to live in a construction camp in a remote part of the province while working on a project.

Three out of four construction jobs are in the Mainland/Southwest and on Vancouver Island/Coast.