Skillit Craft Labor Market Research

State of the craft labor force in Austin, Texas

At Skillit we believe that data is power. Thats why we’ve released this first-of-its-kind report to help construction company decision-makers better understand the skilled construction workforce of Austin as it undergoes one of the largest construction booms in history.

Using anonymized data from over 20,000 Skillit worker profiles, the report quantifies critical characteristics of Austin’s skilled trade workers including their real-time pay and communication preferences, skills and experience levels and more!

Craft workers in Austin are:

  • 1.4X more likely to be a member of a union

  • 1.6X more likely to sign up for a women-friendly workplace

  • 2.2X more likely to prefer communicating in Spanish

Authorization to work is a key challenge

Craft workers in Austin Texas are 2.9X less likely to be eligible to work in the U.S than their national peers

A few key findings

💰 Base pay

Current hourly pay in Austin is 0.98 times the national average.

The difference in pay between Austin and the national average is most pronounced for laborers ($3.20) and drywallers (-$3.56).

In Austin, the desired pay is relatively consistent across most trades at 0.90 times the national averages.

Nationally, drywallers have the highest desired hourly pay ($37.40) compared to their Austin counterparts ($27.98).

In Austin, craft workers expect 0.43 times the pay improvement compared to their national counterparts with construction laborers desiring the highest pay improvement ($6.46), significantly more than their Austin counterparts ($1.59 on average) and whose desired increases are more evenly distributed across trades, with lower expectations overall.

Austin craft workers, particularly carpenters, are more willing to accept lower pay (51%) for the right job compared to the national average.

Nationally, workers show less variation in their willingness to accept lower pay, staying around the 20% mark across trades with Laborers bucking the trend and being the least willing to accept lower pay (4%).

of craft workers in Austin are primarily motivated by good benefits.

💛 Non-financial motivations

Craft workers in Austin are most likely to be motivated by good benefits (42%), followed by training & upskilling opportunities (29%), career mobility (20%) and a women-friendly culture (9%).

Compared to their national peers, craft workers in Austin are 1.1 times more likely to be motivated by good benefits, 0.92 times by training & upskilling, 0.79 times by career mobility and 1.64 times by a women-friendly culture.

🧰 Skills & Experience

Overall, craft workers in Austin tend to have higher average skill assessment scores than their national counterparts in most trades, with the most significant differences seen in carpenters (+20%), pipelayers (+10%) and welders (+9%). Electricians and plumbers are the exceptions, where the national average scores are 2.9% and 1.9% higher respectively.

Craft workers in Austin generally have 2.7 more years of construction experience (19.0) compared to the national average across most trades (17.7), with the most significant differences seen in welders (+3.8), heavy equipment operators (+3.0), and pipefitters (+2.4). The only exception is drywallers, where the national average experience is 1.1 years higher.

Our past experience data suggests a significant amount of career mobility with many workers gaining experience in multiple trades. The most common Tertiary to Secondary trade transitions is general labor —> welder while the most common Secondary to Primary trade transition is pipefitter —> welder.

🚀 Growth

From May-24 to June-24, Austin showed a significant growth rate (1,067%) sitting just behind Orlando (1,159%) as Skillit’s fastest-growing city by growth of skilled craft workers.

And while Austin leads Texas with the highest growth, other Texas cities like Houston (393%), San Antonio (676%) and Dallas (737%) also showed very strong increases.

monthly growth rate of craft workers on Skillit from May to June of 2024 in Austin.

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🏭 Current & past employers

Our data reveals that Kiewit is the most prominent employer in Austin with carpenters, laborers, concrete workers, HEOs, plumbers and pipefitters all citing it as a past or current employer and indicating its extensive involvement in diverse construction projects.

Tesla is notable for employing laborers and concrete workers, reflecting its large-scale plant construction activities in the region while Primoris, Fluor, and Bechtel are significant employers for specialized trades like welders and pipefitters, underscoring their role in complex engineering and construction projects.

🇺🇸 Work authorization

Craft workers in Austin are most likely not to reveal their work status (49%) followed by confirming they are authorized to work in the U.S. (45%) then not authorized to work in the U.S. (6%).

Compared to their national peers, craft workers in Austin are 2.9 times less likely to be authorized to work in the U.S. than their peers nationally, a significant delta.

We speculate that this is caused by the surge in government funding and semiconductor construction projects in Austin has employers feeling the pressure to scale up their craft workforces which might lead to a higher number of unauthorized workers being employed.  Also as a border state, Texas has a significant population of immigrants that are attracted to Austin’s robust construction market not to mention smaller employers too might be motivated to hire unauthorized workers because they can pay lower wages and avoid certain taxes and benefits.

👷‍♀️ Demographics

On average, craft workers in Austin are 0.46 times as likely to be female (3.26%) than their peers nationally (7.15%).

In Austin, women in the trades are most likely to be drywallers (6.1%) and least likely to be heavy equipment operators (1.6%) while nationally, women in the trades are most likely to be electricians (8.9%) and least likely to be concrete workers (5.4%).

Craft workers in Austin are 21 months younger on average than their peers nationally.

of craft workers in Austin are female. Less than half that of their national peers.

✋ Language preferences

On average, craft workers in Austin are 2.24 times more likely to cite Spanish as their preferred language (19.4%) when compared to their peers nationally (8.7%).

In Austin, concrete workers are the most likely trade to prefer Spanish (25.0%) while welders are the least likely to prefer Spanish (15.2%). Nationally, plumbers are the most likely trade to prefer Spanish (13.4%) while carpenters are the least likely to prefer Spanish (6.35%).

💬 Communication

When communicating with craft workers, recruiters are 1.83 times more likely to get a response from a worker in Austin (67%) compared to the national average (43%). This indicates that once contact is established, Austin craft workers are more likely to respond positively or engage with recruiters.

Workers in Austin however take 1.25 times longer to respond to recruiter outreach (4 days on average) compared to the national average (3 days on average). This could indicate a higher volume of recruitment activities, less urgency, or other local factors affecting response times in Austin.

Calls are just 0.34 times as effective in Austin compared to the national average, requiring more than twice the number of outreaches to make a connection. Meanwhile SMS is 1.73 times more effective and Email is 1.76 times more effective in Austin, with fewer outreaches needed compared to the national average.

✊ Union membership

Craft workers in Austin are on average 1.4 times more likely to be a member of a union (12.83%) compared to their peers nationally (9.17%).

In Austin, welders are the most likely trade to be members of a union (15.1%) while drywallers are the least likely to be members of a union (11.0%). Nationally, pipelayers are the most likely trade to be members of a union (10.5%) while plumbers are the least likely to be members of a union (6.0%)

of craft workers in Austin are members of a union.

Drywallers in Austin are the most likely trade to be authorized to work in the U.S. and the least likely trade to be a union member.

Welders in Austin are the least likely trade to be authorized to work in the U.S. and the most likely trade to be a union member.

The inverse correlation between drywaller and welders’ work authorization status and union membership can be explained by union support, advocacy and recruitment practices, economic incentives and the legal and regulatory environment of Texas.

Unions in the U.S. advocate for better working conditions and rights for all workers, including unauthorized ones. Unauthorized welders may join unions for support, protection, and advocacy, making them more likely to be members. Unions actively recruit these workers to increase membership and provide pathways to legal status or rights advocacy. Higher wages and benefits in unionized positions attract unauthorized welders, despite the risks. In Texas, the legal environment makes it easier for unauthorized workers to find jobs in trades like welding, where unions help navigate these complexities.

🚚 Commute distance

Craft workers in Austin experience a 3.1 times greater one-way commute distance than their peers nationally with pipefitters experiencing the highest commute distance (43.60 miles) and drywallers experience the shortest commute distance (28.26 miles).

One explanation for this commute distance include Austin's rapid growth and high central housing costs which can push construction workers to find affordable housing farther from job sites. Construction projects on the city's outskirts, limited public transportation, and natural barriers further also extend commute distances.

✈️ Migration for work

The migration patterns found in our data suggests Austin is a major draw for craft workers due to its economic opportunities, reasonable cost of living and quality of life with the relative size of the craft workforce* nationally willing to relocate to Austin significantly larger than the local workforce and highest among HEOs (1.87X), plumbers (1.85X) and pipelayers (1.77X). Welders (1.58X), laborers (1.49X) and carpenters (1.42X) had the smallest relative size of the craft workforce nationally willing to relocate to Austin.

Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana are the highest-interest origin states. Relatedly, most craft workers are willing to travel a distance of up to 843 miles on average to migrate to Austin for work with laborers willing to travel the greatest distance of up to 910 miles on average and carpenters - an outlier in this regard - showing a willingness to travel the least distance of up to just 402 miles on average.

* For example, for every 1 x HEO in Austin, there are 1.87 x HEOs willing to relocate to Austin.

of craft workers nationally are open to relocating to Austin for work.

🦺 OSHA certification

On average, with the exception of laborers, concrete workers and drywallers, craft workers in Austin are 0.96 times as likely to hold OSHA 10 certification (68.40%) as their national peers (71,41%) but, with the exception of laborers, concrete workers and drywallers, are 1.11 times as likely to hold OSHA 30 certification (28.42%) as their national peers (25.60%). OSHA 40 and 62 certifications are far less common overall however craft workers in Austin are 2.53 times as likely to hold OSHA 40 certification (2.5%) as their national peers (0.99%) and just 0.34X as likely to hold OSHA 62 certification (0.69%) as their national peers (2.00%).

Methodology

Unless otherwise noted, all data included in this report is as of June 30, 2024 and based on the anonymized data from ~20,000 Skillit worker profiles located in, or interested in relocating to, Austin and 12 months of communications between employers and craft workers aggregated across the Skillit platform.

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