ST. PAUL — Union construction work in Minnesota pays better than the nonunion peers without inflating project costs in the $16 billion industry, according to anew study out last week.
Union contractors in Minnesota collected an average hourly pay of $33 between 2015 and 2019, according to the study, $8 more than their nonunion counterparts and only $2 less than the average Minnesota college graduate. Coupled with other findings in the study, Midwest Economic Policy Institute Policy Director Frank Manzo said Tuesday, July 6, is the takeaway “that Minnesota’s union construction industry is no more costly than the nonunion alternative even though it produces higher wages.”
Using U.S. Census Bureau data, researchers at the institute, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Colorado State University-Pueblo found construction workers in Minnesota not only earned an average hourly pay 32% greater than nonunion workers, but had greater access to pension plans and relied less on government assistance as well. Less than 1% of union construction workers used the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program between 2010 and 2019, according to the study, compared to 13.6% of nonunion construction workers.