Cost & Opportunity: Construction and Extraction

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The Best Cities for Rent and Construction and Extraction Jobs

ABODO wants every renter to love where they live, and a lot of that depends on their careers. Our Cost and Opportunity series delves into which cities offer the highest job density, best pay, and most affordable rent prices, given a particular occupation category. So far, we’ve covered tech, health care, PR and media, and education jobs. This month, we turn to the industry (literally) fueling the country’s growth and development: construction and extraction jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this category includes workers ranging from construction laborers, carpenters, and masons, to highway maintenance workers, hazardous materials removal workers, earth drillers, and carpet installers. For a full breakdown of construction and extraction jobs, visit the BLS occupation page.

This is an interesting category to consider in terms of location. Construction jobs are usually found in areas requiring infrastructure or undergoing rapid development, while extraction is geographically limited to areas that have materials, such as oil, to be extracted. What results is somewhat of an odd mix of developing cities and energy hotbeds.

In terms of sheer job opportunities, Baton Rouge, LA, is in the lead by leaps and bounds, with 99.5 out of every 1,000 jobs in the metro area being in construction and extraction. The next closest in job density is Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX, with 60.1 per 1,000 jobs, followed closely by Corpus Christi, TX, with 59.1.

When looking at earnings and rent, however, the picture looks radically different. Apartments in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, cost a median rent of $1,191 for a one-bedroom, which is difficult to afford on the area’s median construction/extraction wage of $39,580. Workers in Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL, garner the highest wages, at $75,780, while paying $1,861 in rent — still coming out ahead of those workers in San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco who are earning just $66,060 to afford the median rent of $3,240. Construction and extraction workers in both areas, however, battle relatively low job densities.

With both opportunity and wages considered, Baton Rouge still tops our list, scoring 14.3 out of 20, largely thanks to its plethora of jobs. Next up is Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI, which has significantly fewer opportunities (26.5 construction/extraction jobs per 1,000), but also has much lower rent and higher pay than Baton Rouge, with just $525 for a one-bedroom apartment and annual earnings of $53,790. Baton Rouge, by contrast, runs $798 for a one-bedroom apartment on a median wage of $44,900.

How Cities Rank for Job Density and Earnings

Fort Wayne, IN, and Toledo, OH, also broke the 10-point mark, with 10.59 and 10.27, respectively, while Bakersfield, CA (9.85); Wichita, KS (9.82); Cleveland-Elyria (9.58); Oklahoma City, OK (8.93); Anchorage, AK (8.44); and Reno (8.17) round out the top 10.

On the other end of the spectrum, two cities are tied for last place, with a score of 1.19 out of 20: Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL, and San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco. Conditions aren’t much better in New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ, where rent will run you $2,913 on an income of $62,150 — meaning more than half of your income will go toward rent, which is also the case for the Miami and San Francisco areas.

Meanwhile, Durham-Chapel Hill, NC (1.81), has the lowest density of construction and extraction jobs of any city in our study, with relatively low wages to boot.

For press inquiries, contact Sam Radbil.


We used 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on employment per 1,000 jobs and median annual wages for all construction and extraction occupations by metropolitan statistical area and paired it with ABODO data on median 1-bedroom rent prices. To calculate the income-to-rent ratio for each MSA, we divided the median annual wages by 12 to get a median monthly wage, then divided the result by the current median 1-bedroom rent price for the area. We then scaled both the employment per 1,000 jobs and the income-to-rent ratio to give each a relative value between 0 and 10. The final score is a weighted sum of the scaled values, with employment per 1,000 jobs carrying a 75% weight and income-to-rent ratio 25%.