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Median Painter Wage Now $22/Hour

It’s not surprising that New England states offer some of the highest painter wages. But would you believe the best painter wages are found in…Illinois? Believe it, because we only lie on April Fools. Final Fun Fact: Median Painter wage is now $22/hour. Read on for more details about your state.

13 July, 2023

“Painting is physically demanding and requires a lot of bending, kneeling, reaching, and climbing. Those who paint bridges or buildings may work at extreme heights or in uncomfortable positions.” That description from US Department of Labor Statistics won’t win any marketing awards, but it is accurate.

DOL also reports that median pay for painters is $21.92/hour, which adds up to about $45,500/year (assuming no overtime). You may recall from math class that “median” means half of painters make more, and half make less (and half never show up for the interview).

The DOL also reported there were approximately 365,300 painter jobs available in 2021, and it doesn’t expect that to change much over the next 10 years. Of all those jobs, the report continues, you’ll see about 31,600 openings per year – a turnover rate of ~9%.

When it comes to top pay for painters, Illinois takes the prize for top pay, followed by Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.  That’s only a minor change from last year, when New York took top honors, followed by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Alaska. (See more state data here.)

What states have the most painting jobs? Hawaii, Nevada, Maine, Ohio, and Oregon. (We envision the following ideal travelling painter life: summer in Maine, fall in Oregon, winter and spring in Hawaii.)
Cities offering top painter wages (not accounting for cost of living):
•    Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina metro area of Maui County, Hawaii at slightly ($70K/year)
•    Chicago
•    Honolulu
•    San Francisco/Oakland
•    San Jose
•    Peoria, IL

Prior year’s top payers were New York, NY; Champaign, IL; San Francisco/Oakland, CA; San Jose, CA; and Kankakee, IL.

Painters in school
Zippia.com, which compiles its own sets of statistics, also provides data on painter education. According to its numbers:
•    About half of painters have completed high school
•    18% have a bachelor’s degree. Most common degrees are Business, General Studies, Fine Arts, Automotive Technology, and Criminal Justice.
•    0.1% of painters have a Ph.D. 
According to Zippa, painters are most in-demand in Sacramento, Boston, New York, Chicago, and St. Paul.

Oregon-area IUPAT wins pay raise

On the topic of painter cheddar, union painters in the pacific northwest recently negotiated a nearly $10/hour pay raise over the next three years. Member of the Painters Local 10, which covers parts of Oregon and southwest Washington, voted to ratify a new three-year agreement with the Associated Wall & Ceiling Contractors to increase their compensation by $9.86 over the next three years (this includes both salary and benefits). The agreement pertains to work done for six specific AWCC wall and ceiling contractors. Under the new contract, reports author Don McIntosh, a journeyman painter now makes $33.50 an hour plus $15.46 an hour in health, pension, and other benefits. The first increase of $3.86 per hour took place on July 1.

An earlier article on the same website, author Mallory Gruben notes that this is the largest pay bump the union has seen, and that the right to strike, implemented in 2021, may have played a part in this. However, she continues, the historic pay raises compensate for a long period where wages had stagnated, and much of this was playing catch-up. The article continued that the increase in wages, like in many industries, may provide a pathway towards recruiting and retaining a larger and more dedicated workforce.

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