Construction laborers and helpers held about 1.4 million jobs in 2014.
Construction laborers held about 1.2 million jobs in 2014, of which 60 percent were employed in the construction industry. About 1 in 4 construction laborers were self-employed in 2014.
Construction helpers held about 227,300 jobs in 2014. The employment levels of construction helper occupations in 2014 were as follows:
Helpers--pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters
Helpers--brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, and tile and marble setters
Helpers--construction trades, all other
Helpers--painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons
Most construction laborers and helpers perform physically demanding work. Some work at great heights or outdoors in all weather conditions; others may be required to work in tunnels. They must use earplugs around loud equipment and wear gloves, safety glasses, and other protective gear.
Injuries and Illnesses
Construction laborers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Workers may experience cuts from materials and tools, fatal and nonfatal falls from ladders and scaffolding, and burns from chemicals or equipment. Some jobs expose workers to harmful materials, fumes, or odors, or to dangerous machinery. Workers may also experience muscle fatigue and injuries related to lifting and carrying heavy materials.
Although they face similar hazards to construction laborers, some construction helpers experience a rate of injuries and illnesses that is closer to the national average. The helpers of carpenters, electricians, and pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters, however, have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average.
Like many construction workers, most laborers and helpers work full time. Although they must sometimes stop work because of bad weather, they often work overtime to meet deadlines. Laborers and helpers on highway and bridge projects may need to work overnight to avoid causing major traffic disruptions. In some parts of the country, construction laborers and helpers may work only during certain seasons. For example, in northern climates, cold weather frequently disrupts construction activity in the winter.
About 1 in 4 construction laborers were self-employed in 2014. Self-employed construction laborers may be able to set their own schedule. In contrast, very few helpers were self-employed.