To find the best cities for general contractors to thrive, we had to source numerous data sets and analyze them together. It’s important to note that our data reflects work opportunities and pay for general contractors — also called construction managers — and no subcontractors, who often complete small parts of a construction project while working under the general contractor’s direction.
We started by using data from LinkedIn to find the cities with the highest number of open jobs for general contractors. This beginning statistic confirms where the highest demand for construction managers is, meaning greater opportunity overall. We compared job listings per capita to control for areas with higher populations that will naturally have more open jobs.
We then compiled data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to confirm where employment of general contractors is lowest. This information further helps identify where demand for construction managers will be highest, and we again weighted these statistics based on population.
We used additional data from the BLS to confirm where construction managers are paid the most. We compared these statistics to the average cost of living in each city to determine where the wages of general contractors will have the most positive impact on life.
Finally, we pulled three data sets from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to confirm where construction jobs are in the highest demand. These data sets included building permits for single-family residences from August of 2020 through August of 2021, the current number of construction jobs as compared to long-term historical availability, and the current number of housing permits for single-family residences as compared to the previous year.
All of these data sets from the NAR are weighted based on population to control for dense areas where construction permits will naturally be more prevalent.
In our team’s opinion, the raw data is most helpful when all factors are considered together. The above factors are weighted based on what our team members feel is most important for the quality of life and opportunity. We’ve weighted the elements as follows:
- The living wage by city: 0.75
- The # of open jobs per 100,000 residents: 1.75
- Employment in the construction industry per 100,000 residents: 1.00
- Location quotient: 1.00
- The average wage across all industries: 1.25
- The 12-month sum of 1-unit building permits per 100,000 residents: 1.50
- The current level of construction compared to long-term averages: 1.50
- The current 1-unit housing permits compared to the previous year: 1.25
Top U.S. Metropolitan Areas to Work as a General Contractor
Our overall goal was to identify which cities throughout the United States held the greatest opportunity to general contractors in terms of work availability, demand, and income ratio to cost of living. To determine the top states for this metric, we considered and weighted eight factors, including the prevalence of current housing permits and recent increases to construction jobs, indicating a housing boom.
The metropolitan area with the best opportunities for general contractors is Columbia, South Carolina, with an impressive score of 40.8. Only three cities scored over 40 out of 50. The North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area in Florida came in at a close second with a score of 40.5, and Greenville-Andersen, South Carolina in third with a 40.0.
We compared the top 25 cities for general contractor work availability and opportunity. Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio, Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky-Indiana, and Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, Texas just made the list with scores of 31.6, 31.7, and 31.8, respectively.
Top U.S. Metropolitan Areas Where General Contractors Are Paid the Best
As part of the above determination, we analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for average general contractor income by U.S. metro area. This helped us determine where the wages for general contractor work made the most significant impact on quality of life.
We found that the highest general contractor income was in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The annual mean wage for general contractors in this area was $153,490. Only one other metropolitan area — San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California — had a higher average GC wage over $150,000.
With the exception of the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area in California, all of the top five areas for general contractor income are located on the east coast near or in the tri-state area: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
General contractors in all of the top 20 metro areas in the United States earn, on average, over $100,000. The 20th best-paying metropolitan area was New Orleans-Metairie, Louisiana, coming in at $113,490. The nineteenth metro area was Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island, with an average GC wage of $113,740.
The Top U.S. Metropolitan Areas With the Most Recent New Home Builds
Finally, we determined where the most significant demand and the largest increase in demand for general contractor work were in the country. We did this by comparing current and historical data of single-family residence building and housing permits, and we compared current data to last year’s statistics to confirm recent increases in demand. We controlled for population differences across cities by taking averages per 100,000 residences.
The most new building permits per capita were in North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, with 1,397.84 permits being pulled per 100,000 people. This equates to more than 1% of the population requiring new construction, a clear indication of a housing boom and good news for general contractors.
Only three other metropolitan areas showed more than 1% of residents pulling new home construction permits:
- Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, Texas, with 1,109.11 permits per 100,000 people,
- Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina, with 1,048.10 permits per 100,000 people,
- and Jacksonville, Florida, with 1,006.45 permits per 100,000 people.
We ranked the top 20 metro areas with the highest demand for new construction per capita. Tucson, Arizona and Baton Rouge, Louisiana came in at 20th and 19th with 485.90 and 486.46 permits per 100,000 people, respectively. They’re the only two cities in the top 20 with new construction permit rates of less than 0.5% of the population.
New housing permits are nearly 1.5 times as prevalent in the top cities as they are in the 19th and 20th on the list. This should put into perspective how much of an effect the housing boom in the top four metro areas has on the work availability for general contractors.
Wrapping Up: Conclusions and Major Insights
When taking all of the above data into account and weighing based on what the Regional Gutter Repair team believes has the most significant impact on a General Contractor’s quality of life and opportunity, we rated all metro areas in the U.S. out of a score of 50.
We identified Columbia, South Carolina as the best metropolitan area in America for general contractors with a weighted score of 40.8. The data shows that GCs in this area have abundant opportunities that are expected to grow in the near future, as well as a relatively high wage as compared to the cost of living in the area.
Only two other metro areas scored over a 40 out of 50: North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida in a close second with a score of 40.5, and Greenville-Anderson, South Carolina with a weighted total of 40.0.
Interestingly, the top six metro areas with the greatest overall opportunity for general contractors are all located in South Carolina and Florida. As such, these might be the best states to relocate to if you’re a general contractor looking to expand or are considering getting into the business.
The worst opportunity and relative income for general contractors are in Urban Honolulu, Hawaii, which scored only 17.8. Only one other metro — San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California — area came in at under 20, with a score of 19.7.
Ultimately, our goal was to determine where the best opportunity in the country existed for general contractors and, by extension, for professionals like us in the gutter industry. Luckily for you, we have professionals across the country, so even if you live in an area with sub-optimal opportunities or pay for general contractors, you can contact our team for reliable gutter repair and installation year-round!