If COVID’s done anything, it’s thrown our wage system into disarray, and labor shortages from painting companies to fast food have changed the landscape of where and how people are willing to work. You may have noticed the nearby McDonald’s offering higher wages than you do, and it brings up the question of would someone rather flip burgers or be a professional painter for the same money? All that said, there are some states that on average pay painters more than others. When adjusted for cost of living, the Midwest still offers the best opportunity for painters looking to make the most of their income. According to the Department of Labor, the mean wage is$ 22.66 an hour, or around $47,140 a year. If you’re wondering why there’s a shortage, see what your nearby businesses are offering for what might be easier work, more growth opportunity and more stable hours.
As usual, Alaska and Hawaii are near the top of the pack. Both offer spectacular views, opportunity, and well… pick your climate. According to the most recent report from the Department of Labor on Painters, Construction and Maintenance the highest annual mean wages for painters are, in order:
• New York — $60,840
• Hawaii — $59,070
• Illinois — $58,430
• New Jersey — $56,600
• Alaska — $54,360
Leading the pack in highest annual mean wages per metro area is Illinois, which conquers half of the top spots. The top ten paying metro areas are, according to the DOL:
• New York City area — $62,490
• Champaign-Urbana, IL — $62,380
• San Francisco/Oakland, CA — $62,380
• San Jose, CA — $61,260
• Kankakee, IL — $60,490
• Honolulu, HI — $59,870
• Springfield, IL — $59,440
• Kahului, HI — $59,430
• Decatur, IL — $59,300
• Peoria, IL — $59,000
As as you move out of the metro areas into the smaller cities and towns, Alaska, Illinois and Hawaii still earn top dollar. However as we’ll soon see, when cost of living is considered pay is remarkably different between Illinois and Hawaii.
All that glitters is not gold leaf
Before you get nervous that your top performers might leave the lower 48 for what seems to be a higher paying salary, it’s important to consider the cost of living. A lower wage in Des Moines might be better than a higher wage in Anchorage. Chris Kolmar, writing for Zippia.com has come up with a formula that combines the actual pay with each state’s cost of living. He ranks all 50 states in order, not just by the number on the paycheck, but by how far that paycheck goes based on the cost of living in each state. Here’s where the Midwest takes the cake. In order, the highest paying states in terms of pay/cost of living ratio (note: below numbers are annual adjusted salary by cost of living):
What does this mean for your business?
While some of the pay numbers might seem high at first glance, be sure to consider cost of living. As you look to hire painters in the future, bear these numbers in mind, but also consider your specific area. Check help wanted ads in your area (consider checking multiple industry job listings), many of which post starting pay to truly asses what pay rates need to change for you to remain competitive. How you compare to the store/restuarant around the block likely impacts your business more than how you compare to Honolulu if you live in Virginia.