Best Countries for Construction Workers in 2021
The visual content above shares the rankings of 125 countries for best countries for construction workers. It considers three indices: construction workers’ average salary, the cost of living, and the workplace incident rate, pulling data from SalaryExplorer, Numbeo, and Lloyd’s Register Foundation.
Note that the workplace incident rate concerns all kinds of industries as it is a percentage of workers who answered YES to a question whether they have been seriously injured. However, as the construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries and experiences the most workplace deaths, it could be said that the workplace incident rate reflects the incident rate in the construction industry to some extent.
As we can see, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the United States, and Canada were the five best countries for construction workers. On the other hand, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Dominican Republic, Bangladesh, and Ivory Coast were at the bottom of the rankings. Apart from the obvious, the following are some key findings and tendencies.
Switzerland Pays the Highest Salary for Construction Workers
The highest average salary for construction workers is $79,159 of Switzerland. This amount is by far the highest—almost 1.4 times of the second highest, $57,957 of the UK. With this unbeatable salary, Switzerland took the crown although its incident rate was not exactly among the lowest. In addition to its attractive salary, it may be relatively easy for migrant workers to take up employment opportunities because a solid majority of 64.8% of the country’s construction workforce are migrants.
However, if we look at the figure of the median income in Switzerland, the view may be somewhat different. The median annual income in Switzerland is 119,000 CHF or approximately $129,000. In the country where half of the population earn more than $129,000, the life naturally becomes costly. For your reference, a small bottle of water costs $4.08. A meal at an ‘inexpensive restaurant’ costs $27.14. The largest city in the country Zurich was in fact the 5th most expensive city in the world in 2020.
Poland Is the Safest Country for Workers
The country where workers are in the safest condition is Poland, proudly with the lowest incident rate of 4%. In fact, Unibep, the biggest construction company in Poland, mentions on its website that Poland became one of the countries with the lowest rate of the most serious accidents (5.18%) at construction sites. However, the country’s relatively low salary of $13,702 pushed down its ranking to 42nd.
Singapore is the second safest place for workers. The combination of its fair amount of salary ($43,958) and the low incident rate (5%) positioned the country at 6th. It is the first country in East Asia and Pacific to appear in the list.
There are only 11 countries that have the incident rates lower than 10%. Among these 11 safest countries, only three appeared in the top 10: the United Kingdom, Singapore and China. Despite offering a safest condition, two of them didn’t even make the upper half of the rankings. These are Vietnam (7%) and Egypt (9%). Both the countries, unfortunately, pay proportionately low amount of money to construction workers. In Vietnam, construction workers earn $5,309, and in Egypt $4,142.
There Is a Disparity within a Region
The classification of the regions is in accordance with the World Bank. Although there is an obvious disparity between so-called Global North and Global South, there also is a distinctive disparity within a region.
The region with the largest gap is Europe and Central Asia. While most of the Western and Northern European countries made the first half of the list, most of the Eastern and Southern European to the Central Asian countries appear in the bottom half of the rankings. The gap in salaries is tremendous in the region: construction workers in Switzerland earn whopping 90 times more than those in Uzbekistan ($875).
Middle East and North Africa also have a wide disparity. While five countries in the region, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Israel, and Bahrain, appeared in the first quartile of the dataset, four countries in the region were among the bottom quartile. They are Egypt, Iran, Libya, and Yemen. The highest salary in the region (UAE, $36,483) is almost 39 times of the lowest in the region (Yemen, $940).
The same tendency is true in the region East Asia and Pacific. Singapore pays the highest salary ($43,958) with the lowest incident rate at the 6th of the list, while Myanmar pays only one eighteenth of the Singapore’s salary. Additionally, in terms of safety, Myanmar is the least safest country with a surprisingly high incident rate of 58%. This means it is more than 11 times likely to get injured at work in Myanmar than in Singapore.
The Construction Industry Is Set to Grow to 2025
The world has been going through continuing uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, global construction will continue to recover according to a report, “Global Construction Outlook to 2025” published by GlobalData. The London-based data analytics and consulting company forecast global construction output growth to be average 3.7% per year from 2022 to 2025.
There is a catch in this forecast; the outlook assumes that there won’t be strict lockdown policy and that construction sites will continue operating as normal. With much reliance on migrants workers in the industry, fully-open borders between countries are inevitable for its strong recovery. Having said that, golden opportunities might arise for people who wish to explore career in the industry if found a place in one of the best countries for construction workers for coming years.
The Bottom Line: Workplace Health and Safety Compliance Matters More in Pandemic
Construction workers are the people who build the infrastructure that will support and benefit our daily life. However, many construction workers lost job due to the pandemic. Moreover, it came to our knowledge that many of migrant construction workers were under poor living conditions in some countries such as Singapore and the UAE. It would be more than ever crucial for construction businesses to comply with health and safety duties in the wake of the pandemic to fast recover.