Why is it that Most other tradesman can expect much more as an employee than carpentry and cabinetmaking. Most journeyman electricians, plumbers, machinists etc. all get $30 plus in my area. Not to mention rate jobs which are frequent for them. A top notch carpenter/cabinetmaker gets $20 ish tops. Why?
A little about me. I put my head down 20 years ago to be the bestest wood butcher around. One day i'm on a job as an employee. Yet another million dollar house. Making, as usual, $18 and I said where's my fine car, where's my pool, where's my arts and crafts marble mantle. etc. I know there is good money to be made in self employment but let's be real. 1 in 1000 of us has what it takes to really make it that way. I guess this turned into a question and a rant. Oh well.
I blame tradition, or maybe call it independence. I don't know when the first flat rate manual was published for mechanics, but go about anywhere in the USA, and the small shop would open up the book and tell you how much to change a water pump. The Architectural Woodwork Institute has something similar, but in my very limited exposure, I've never met someone that is a member.
Painters, tile guys, tapers about the same as cabinetmakers. We run our hands over blades, installs are heavy work. I think its a legitimate question. Maybe because its one of the more rewarding trades. Lots of guys wanting to do it? I suppose its a luxury good. Need wires and pipes?
It is supply and demand, everyone wants to be a cabinetmaker, I think because everyone looks up to them?
In general one gets paid according to their production. IOW a guy who knows how to run a backhoe gets paid more than a guy who knows how to run a shovel.
The supply and demand also is influenced by the fact that to become a cabinetmaker does not require literacy, this is a pretty low bar for entry. Electricians get paid more because it is harder to learn their trade (i.e. they have to be literate) and maybe more dangerous.
Another factor is that much of the work has been automated.
Another factor is that much of the work has been off shored.
Another and perhaps the biggest factor is demographics. The biggest demand for housing is when people form families. People form families at a specific age this is going to increase markedly starting in 2020. The millennials are a bigger group than the baby boomers. Consequently the demand is going to go up.
There is an economic law called Say's law, in a nut shell it says that production determines demand. Societal propaganda says that demand is inherent in a situation. But that is just propaganda. Think about a barter economy if you produce more commodities you have more demand as you have more to trade. The point is production is king. Customers seek value the more value you produce the more you will be in demand. This may sound like a duh statement, but it is very easy to hide in quality and not stay focused on production.
Another factor is that the Fed has seen fit to keep the interest rates low. This results in much/over investment in projects that take a long time to return the investment. This means that large commercial projects and high end residential will be strong as long as interest rates stay low.
Another factor is that there is a difference in consumer goods and capital goods. Despite the propaganda that says that 70% of the economy is consumer spending, the fact is that over half of the economy is business spending or capital goods. This means that capital goods is a much bigger market than the residential market. Are you more likely to spend money on a tool that will make you more money or on an item that is used for entertainment? This is why the mentality of the customer for capital goods is an easier sell and a more likely repeat customer.
BTW rich people consider their house as a business investment as it helps to promote them to their associates.
Any woodworking that is used for promotional purposes is more remunerative than other types of woodwork.
I'm sure most lost interest after the first paragraph, but you did ask?
DEFINITION OF 'SAY'S LAW OF MARKETS'
An economic rule that says that production is the source of demand. According to Say's Law, when an individual produces a product or service, he or she gets paid for that work, and is then able to use that pay to demand other goods and services.
Read more: Say's Law Of Markets Definition | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/says-law.asp#ixzz3mcoOYg7h
A point to note is that the definition of a product is often misunderstood.
A product is something that someone is willing to pay money for. E.G. a beaded inset set of kitchen cabinets, an I Phone, a Ferrari. What is not a product is a bridge to nowhere, an empty city in China, a handmade cabinet that is a monument to your skills.
So a business owner has to constantly listen to the customer to see what they consider to be valuable.
Ergo the more value you produce the more demand there will be for your products.
If your reaction is anything more than duh, you are overthinking it.
Chris - You just need to focus a bit. Yes, generally the field is low paying, but there are exceptions. It is more rewarding and has more cachet than plumbing, for example.
There are cabinetmakers and there are cabinetmakers. Compare Merillat to Frank Pollaro. Both companies employ cabinetmakers. I can say with some confidence that one firm pays its cabinetmakers better than others.
Do not settle for whee you are. Find the best shop doing the best work. If there are none, you may have to move. I was once told that when you think you are the top of the market, stand up straight and look around. Just as in mountain climbing, only then can you see all the other top positions or peaks all around you.
The term 'high end' is meaningless except as a an individual reference, so you need to find an independent frame of reference and specialize within the top of that frame. It does little good to be the absolute best ripsaw feeder anyone has seen if you can't layout and build an entire kitchen alone. And laying out the kitchen alone is only a stepping stone to a more complex operation and situation, but with better rewards - tangible and intangible.
It seems like the pay scales you are pointing to may be union rates. If you are talking about union work, than the equations get all skewed. Labor supply is restricted; not everyone can be in the union. Those that are can get $30+, those that are not will get a good deal less. On the other side, certain types of jobs (public, commercial, etc.) require union labor. Since not all businesses are union, those that are can charge more, and afford to pay more. The non-union shops can't charge the same rates to customers as union shops. Some of the trades you mention are licensed, which again restricts the labor pool, driving up wages.
As you said, your question amounts to a rant. I can look at my situation and realize that I am just as smart, have as much education, and work just as hard as many of the clients I work for, but they make a lot more money than I do. Is that fair? Fair or not, I have made choices that have resulted in me being where I am and doing what I do. I don't resent it, it's just how it is. If you don't like your situation, make different choices. You are not going to find a lot of business owners on this site who are getting rich on the backs of their employees.
Bankers make more? Not really, tellers get like $15 if they are lucky. Loan reps etc maybe $40 or 50k. That's the way it is? Yeah I know so I'm asking whey. Overall the blue collar heart of America has had the squeze play on them for years now. All I know is I am not gonna break my as% for peanuts anymore.
Sounds to me like you're gonna wear this viewpoint on your sleeve. Try that for a little while and see how well it works for you.
I had a similar chat with a couple of my guys this morning about this topic. I told them about a kid that applied for an apprenticeship position. He was 22 years old had a couple of years experience. I started him at $12 per hour like the ad said and bumped him to $16 within a week. Two months later I was paying him $25 per hour. If he was still with me I am sure he would be making $35 or $40.
What differentiated him from his cousins was that he quickly grasped who his customer was and what the customer needed. When I told the crew we needed someone to learn Sketchup he was the only one who actually pulled it off. There was no shortage of head nodders, just a shortage of people who could help with 3D communication.
If you act like a monkey you will get paid peanuts. Act like a champion and you'll get paid like a champion.
Trade and offshoring are not a bad thing. It is just that agreements like the TPP or NAFTA are not free trade, They are crony capitalism. Which is part of the problem with offshoring to China. A free trade agreement requires one sentence NOT thousands of pages, IOW the TPP doesn't pass the smell test.
Jobs disappear because of technology and because of comparative advantage. In both cases the customer benefits. Comparative advantage is the cornerstone of the modern economy and the higher standard of living it has produced for both the customer in the US and the factory worker in China.
Like the farmer and auto plant worker jobs change always have and always will. It is to the overall benefit to mankind.
In the video Matt Ridley talks about how China was once the most advanced country the world. Then they got the notion to isolate themselves and stopped trading and the world advanced right past them and they became a 3rd world country.
The dearth of jobs is because of government meddling with the business cycle and because of demographics. Japan has tried to create inflation for over two decades but has failed because they are one of the oldest countries in the world. IOW when people get older they quit buying. The funny part is that deflation is not a bad thing, deflation raises the value of a workers paycheck and the general standard of living.
When the government tries to "prop up" the economy with quantitative easing and TARP and buying MBSs the economy does not recover. This has created the dearth of jobs you see in the graph, breadwinner jobs. The benefactor of QE has been the Stock Market and Real Estate in some areas. This has been the very reason for wealth inequality it happened once before in the late 1920s. IOW party like it's 1929.
The good news is that there is demographic demand on the horizon. The Millennials are a bigger group than the Boomers. BTW the boomers created the demand from the 50s to now. BBTW good luck getting the Millennials to work those factory jobs. Look at the graph on demographics.
This is getting far from my original question which is why our trade is paid less than others. In my area, Northern CT, there is a carpenters union. You pretty much have to know somebody to get in. Even then, there is no guarantee of staying busy year round. Other skilled tradesman are starting at $20 (non-union) not ending there. I know I watch CGSLST. I appreciate the feedback. I like cabinetmaking and don't want to be a whiner. I think being a skilled cabinet guy is as hard or harder than say HVAC or electrical. Dangerous, yeah, how many guys do you know that can't count to ten? I can think of two off hand. Politics. I dunno. I can only say I am not a one worlder. I think we need to consider that the USA only has so much space. The land is running out at least in CT. More people striving for fewer resources equals less to go around. Outsourcing to China has decimated whole industries. Is it only so the rich can get richer or because we like coffee pots for $9.99. Maybe both.
The small cabinetmaker competes with large, productive, nonunion companies that make similar products with higher efficiency. This is not true of the other trades. Factory wages are even lower than shop wages, and that places an upper limit on what you will be paid to work in a shop.
Union and non union trades that work on site get higher pay. Harder for anyone to introduce a high automation/high efficiency/low wage model if the work isn't being done in a factory.
I don't think that Pat's economic analysis is relevant here. It's a case of site work being non-tradable, i.e. can't be performed in any other place than the one that limits efficiency.
As with your last half dozen or so posts Paul, I disagree. Not to be construed as disrespect.
The OP was asking about outside shop work: "A top notch carpenter/cabinetmaker gets $20 ish tops. Why?"
As I stated before production is the key, as in a backhoe operator gets paid more than a shovel operator. Whether in the shop or not. Outside installers do make more money.
Also as I stated before the bar is lower for this field, as you do not even have to be literate, as you do with electrical or plumbing.
Also as I stated before people want to be cabinetmakers just like they want to be photographers or professional athletes or authors. So there is no shortage of want to be cabinetmakers. I like what Mike Rowe says about this: look for opportunity, not your passion.
People need cabinets only a few times in their lives when they buy a house or have a kitchen remodeled or an entertainment center.
Plumbing and Electrical and HVAC guys are needed more often and urgently, so they are more valuable.
Also as I stated before the demographics do and will drive the demand up for housing.
This is what the BLS has to say about this:
Employment of carpenters is projected to grow 24 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Increased levels of new home building and remodeling activity will require more carpenters."
The median annual wage for carpenters was $39,940 in May 2012. $19.20 per hour
Employment of woodworkers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Those who have advanced skills, including the ability to use computer-controlled machinery, should have the best job opportunities in manufacturing industries."
The median hourly wage for woodworkers was $13.67 in May 2012. $28,440 per year
I see both sides of the coin. The cabinetry trade and the mechanical trades (plumbing/HVAC). I own one of each. There are pros and cons to both. If you are looking for work that will make you the most money and are a top notch guy become a plumber or HVAC guy. When self employed it's easy to clear couple thousand a week and three, four and even five thousand dollar weeks is not out of the question. The overhead for a self employed guy is minimal. The learning curve may not be. The bad part is that the work is very tedious, dirty, cold, hot, nasty and for the most part unpleasant. It can also be very stressful. Self employment, where you will make the real money, means you are on call 24/7 and have to deal with people in all different types of situations. But it can also be rewarding because you can be the hero by getting someone's heat working when it failed on the coldest day of the year or get the main line unclogged.
The benifits of being an employee in a woodworking shop in comparison is that the shop environment can be nice. If you are an introvert you may get the benifit of not having to deal with too many people. It can be enjoyable to create beautiful things and very satisfying. It may be dusty but it's not "plumbing" dirty. You are not on call and you don't have to drop everything on Christmas Eve because a very good customer has sewage flooding her basement and is freaking out. But the pay is not as good as plumbing/HVAC/electrical in general.
So my opinion is that each trade has its pros and cons and you have to choose to do what suits your personality best. If you want to make a lot of money learn the trade and hang your shingle as a self employed plumber/HVAC guy but be ready for the downside of that business. If you want to create cool stuff and live a more relaxed life where hours can blend into the next as you work perhaps the woodworking is better for you.
On a side note though I made the most money one week ($10,000+) while I was hired as a plumber but doing woodworking. That one is a story though.
On another side note if your goal is to make the most money forget about all this working in the trade stuff and become a hedge fund manager, oral surgeon, divorce lawyer etc. Of course I'm sure that they have there down sides too.
$40 an hour to hang some cabinets? That's absurd!!! I would never pay someone that much.
Besides woodworking I also have been a career firefighter/paramedic in Baltimore, MD. When I started the Academy in 2004 my annual salary was $27,824 to risk my life in the ghettos. You had to worry about getting shot or stuck with a dirty needle more than dying in a fire. Everyone in my class left a much better paying job to be there.
Moral of the story is if someone wants to do the job they will regardless of pay. I'd show the $40 an hour union man the way to the exit door.
My son-in-law is a union carpenter. And yes he makes a very good wage. However, like some stated above, he doesn't work a consistent 40 hour week every week of the year. Part of the reason for the high hourly pay is that the big paycheck you get most times has to hold you through the times you don't.
I know this as he comes to me looking for part time work when he has not worked for a few days.
So part of the wage scale comes down to the frequency of the hours. Would you rather be consistent 40 hour 52 weeks or take it as it comes and not know from week to week if you are working or not?
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