February 18th, 2013
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Do You Know How Much Laborers Can Earn?
In the U.S., labor is considered ‘unskilled’ and many times, the pay can be somewhat modest. It is unfortunate that laborers are often not paid what they are worth. If this were the case, laborers would some of the highest paid workers on many jobs. The 1st Century BC Roman engineer Vitruvius wrote in great detail about labor practices in the Empire in his multi-volume work De Architectura. He stated that laborers were as valuable as any other aspect of construction. Since the time of the Romans, little has changed in the field of labor. As new technology is developed, it is incorporated into the laborers skills, but most labor is still done with strong hands, and a strong back.
In the modern world, there are two kinds of laborers: Union, and Non-Union. Union laborers belong to, or are otherwise represented by a ‘Union’, which is a collective of many similarly employed people. Unions use the power of ‘collective bargaining’ to lever pressure on companies to grant them better working conditions, more pay, better benefits, etc… And the Union’s biggest gun is the ‘strike’, in which all of it’s members, sometimes numbering in the thousands nation-wide, refuse to go to work until their requests are granted. This can cause businesses to shut down completely, and at the very least cost them a lot of money, so it is a very strong motivator for them try to settle with the Union. Most local unions belong to one of the two major national unions, the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations), or the Change To Win Federation. Unions are strictly regulated and controlled by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal agency.
Non-Union laborers are not represented by anyone other than general laws that apply to everyone. They have little bargaining power, and either have to accept their working conditions, or look for work elsewhere. Laws that effect non-union labor are administered by various state Labor Boards.
Union laborers make 20%-40% more money than non-union laborers. Union laborers get much better benefits. In 2012. Union laborers earned a median wage of $20.50 per hour, while non-union laborers earned $13.20 per hour. This is the median pay scale, meaning the majority of pay will be either below, or above these levels. A lot depends on what area of the country your are working in, and what type of work you do. As a rule, Construction labor pays more than Agricultural labor. Only about 11.3% of laborers in the U.S. belonged to unions in 2012. Union membership is more popular in the north-eastern U.S. than in the south.
What are laborer job prospects like?
The demand for laborers is expected to grow by as much as 22% between now and 2020, the highest of any other industry. This means laborers will be in increased demand, and should translate into higher pay. Laborers can also command more pay by gaining experience, and acquiring more skills.
Over-all, the future for labor looks bright.