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Best Cities for Tradesmen

trade workers

Best Cities for Tradesmen

The U.S. is facing a shortage of skilled trade laborers. This is due to several factors, including the culture’s emphasis on getting a four-year college degree and an increasing number of retiring Baby Boomers. The shortage of skilled trade labor has pushed up wages in these occupations. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings for skilled wage occupations is $47,428, nearly 20% higher than that across all workers.

While there is a shortage of skilled trade workers nationally, the concentration of skilled trade workers varies significantly on a geographic basis. Some parts of the country have older workforces and more skilled trade veterans that are retiring. Vocational programs are also more popular in some areas than others. At the state level, Wyoming and Louisiana have the highest percentage of skilled trade workers in the U.S. Skilled trade employment makes up 8.5% and 6.6% of total employment in Wyoming and Louisiana, respectively.

To find the best areas in the U.S. for skilled trade workers, researchers at Porch analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and and created a composite score based on the following factors:

-Median annual wage for skilled trade workers: the median annual wage for workers in skilled trade occupations

-New residential construction spending per skilled trade worker: value of new residential construction per skilled trade worker

-Employment growth for skilled trade workers: growth in the employment of skilled trade workers over the past two years

-Private union membership: percentage of private industry workers with union membership

-Cost of living: cost of living relative to the national average

At the state level, the best states for skilled trade workers are in the West. According to the composite score, the highest-ranking state is Nevada, where median annual earnings for skilled trade workers is nearly $50,000. Both Oregon and Washington also rank highly among states and offer attractive wages for tradesmen. All of these states also show higher-than-average employment growth in skilled trades and have high rates of private union membership. At the national level, skilled trade employment grew by 6% from 2017 to 2019, and 6.2% of private industry workers belong to unions.

Researchers at Porch ranked metro areas according to their composite score. To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size:

-Small metros: 100,000–349,999

-Midsize metros: 350,000–999,999

-Large metros: 1,000,000 or more

Here are the best large metros for skilled trade workers.

Metro Rank Composite score Median annual wage for skilled trade workers New residential construction spending per skilled trade worker Employment growth for skilled trade workers Private union membership Cost of living (compared to national average)



Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV      1      83.61 $49,504 $47,374 10.6% 13.1% -3.2%
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA      2      82.78 $52,873 $52,189 13.4% 8.2% +3.6%
St. Louis, MO-IL      3      82.74 $58,038 $25,077 3.2% 10.7% -9.0%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA      4      82.03 $57,582 $40,315 12.8% 7.6% +3.8%
Birmingham-Hoover, AL      5      81.86 $43,218 $35,046 9.9% 8.2% -11.3%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA      6      81.83 $50,079 $37,055 12.5% 14.8% +7.0%
Kansas City, MO-KS      7      81.75 $50,693 $40,603 7.1% 7.1% -7.1%
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA      8      81.12 $69,513 $28,447 12.7% 9.7% +31.6%
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN      9      80.45 $47,735 $25,221 8.1% 8.1% -9.8%
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN     10      80.25 $48,106 $25,619 8.3% 6.7% -10.0%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA     11      80.00 $61,771 $41,874 4.2% 12.7% +12.9%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN     12      79.67 $48,178 $44,913 6.4% 5.4% -8.4%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI    13      79.17 $60,280 $46,251 4.3% 7.9% +2.6%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH    14      79.05 $60,558 $32,462 11.0% 5.7% +14.2%
Pittsburgh, PA    15      77.59 $52,473 $7,200 4.9% 9.2% -6.9%
United States      N/A $47,428 $37,164 6.0% 6.2% N/A


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Porch’s website: