The 15 Best-Paying Cities for Painters

Man with paints
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Porch.

The last year has seen unprecedented activity in the residential real estate market, with a growing number of buyers competing for a limited number of homes and sending prices upward.

The scarcity of existing homes has created new opportunities for builders and construction professionals, but the industry has been struggling to keep up with demand: Housing starts have consistently exceeded completions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many other sectors, construction has struggled with two key challenges: increasing costs of materials due to supply issues and a shortage of labor. One of the many areas where these challenges have become apparent is with paint and painters.

Construction materials have seen steep increases in price over the last year. Many manufacturers were operating at reduced capacity during the pandemic and have been slow to catch up with demand overall. Struggles with shipping and logistics bottlenecks have also made it more difficult to secure key materials, which has led to price increases.

The inflation-adjusted cost of paint held relatively steady for most of the last decade before experiencing a gradual increase within the last few years. But at the start of 2021, prices headed sharply upward and have shown little sign of slowing down. Increases in material costs like paint are leading more construction companies to lose jobs from cost-conscious customers and cutting into profit margins.

To determine the best-paying locations for painters, researchers at Porch calculated the median annual wage for painters, adjusted for cost-of-living differences. The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here are the best-paying metropolitan areas for painters in the U.S.

15. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $45,681
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $40,930
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $48,560
  • Cost of living (compared to average): -10.4%

14. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

Hartford, Connecticut
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $46,956
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $48,130
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $60,300
  • Cost of living (compared to average): +2.5%

13. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

Detroit, Michigan
Susanne Pommer / Shutterstock.com
  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $47,492
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $45,260
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $55,980
  • Cost of living (compared to average): -4.7%

12. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

San Francisco
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  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $47,494
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $63,880
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $71,420
  • Cost of living (compared to average): +34.5%

11. Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH

Boston, Massachusetts
Roman Babakin / Shutterstock.com
  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $48,485
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $56,000
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $64,290
  • Cost of living (compared to average): +15.5%

10. Pittsburgh, PA

mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com
  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $49,697
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $45,920
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $53,410
  • Cost of living (compared to average): -7.6%

9. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Suzanne Tucker / Shutterstock.com
  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $49,804
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $45,820
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $46,190
  • Cost of living (compared to average): -8.0%

8. Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Austin Urton / Shutterstock.com
  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $50,067
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $44,960
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $44,450
  • Cost of living (compared to average): -10.2%

7. Kansas City, MO-KS

Kansas City Missouri traffic highways
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  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $50,700
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $47,050
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $53,510
  • Cost of living (compared to average): -7.2%

6. Columbus, OH

Columbus Ohio
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  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $50,939
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $46,660
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $50,800
  • Cost of living (compared to average): -8.4%

5. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $55,063
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $52,090
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $60,930
  • Cost of living (compared to average): -5.4%

4. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis
Roger Siljander / Shutterstock.com
  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $56,472
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $58,110
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $66,830
  • Cost of living (compared to average): +2.9%

3. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com
  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $56,819
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $58,410
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $79,110
  • Cost of living (compared to average): +2.8%

2. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

Buffalo, New York
Atomazul / Shutterstock.com
  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $63,640
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $60,140
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $54,170
  • Cost of living (compared to average): -5.5%

1. St. Louis, MO-IL

St. Louis, Missouri
KENNY TONG / Shutterstock.com
  • Median annual wage for painters (adjusted): $75,771
  • Median annual wage for painters (actual): $68,270
  • Median annual wage for all construction workers (actual): $67,400
  • Cost of living (compared to average): -9.9%

Methodology

Man analyzing data on a laptop
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The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parities dataset and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics.

To determine the best-paying locations for painters, researchers calculated the median annual wage for painters, adjusted for cost-of-living differences. In locations with high living costs, wages were adjusted down to reflect lower purchasing power.

Wages were adjusted up in less expensive locations to reflect greater purchasing power. In the event of a tie, the location with the higher unadjusted median annual wage for painters was ranked higher. To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included.

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