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#217434 - 08/03/16 12:53 PM Is It Worth It To Do Electrical Work?
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5299
Loc: Blue Collar Country
I just sat down to 'run some numbers,' and the results might go a long way towards explaining why we have trouble bringing folks into the electrical trade.

In my area, the 'prevailing wage' is $25.40/hr, with an additional $11.40 for benefits. In reality, a journeyman typically is paid about $18.00/hr.

I don't think I've seen a job in the past two years where I didn't drive at least 550 miles each week, just getting to and from the job site.

The IRS is using a rate of $0.575/mile for a mileage deduction, when used for business travel. While this is not deductible for the individual employee, the number is based on the total expense - gas, insurance, maintenance, depreciation, etc. - of operating a car.

Let's do the math: 550 miles x 0.575 = $316.25.

Balance that with 40 hours at $18.00 = $720.00.

Wages - travel expense = $403.75. That's just about $10/hr.
Contrast that with a 'minimum wage' of $8.50.

Make that minimum wage job a local one (say, within 3 miles), add benefits, paid holidays, and consider regular (not seasonal) work, and that minimum wage job can very easily come out ahead.

Now, for that electrician job ... to the reduced rate above, start deducting the actual costs of tools, work clothes, weather clothing, PPE, and your needing to store all that stuff. My license sets me back $50/year.

Dual purpose? I can't think of the last time I needed my pipe bender, fish tape, or roto-split at home.

High viz tee-shirt? $8. Flame resistant shirt? $50. Work boots? $145.

So far this year, I've had to replace a screwdriver ($20),
several hole saws ($80), diagonal pliers ($35), wire strippers ($25), pocket tool pouch ($12), and fish tape case ($20). That's not counting the various tools that were lost.

Wait, you say ... that mileage deduction is unreasonable! (After all, you need a car anyway- and much of that deduction is for 'overhead' expenses). OK, let's look at the car expenses that are directly tied solely to the work. With gas at about $2.00/gallon and 30mpg, my car car drinks $37 in gas, just for work. With periodic maintenance at around $70 every 5000 miles, add $7/week for basic maintenance. With most folks getting 55,000 miles out of an $800 set of tires, add $8 for tire wear.

That's $52/week in direct, work-caused expense for operating your car. Think of that as $1.30/hour. Assuming that I can somehow get that car and insure it for free.

I hate to say it, but the much-maligned job of flipping burgers is beginning to look like a better career choice.

A neighbor who rides a garbage truck for the city ($10/hr.) is certainly coming out ahead of me.

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#217435 - 08/04/16 07:13 AM Re: Is It Worth It To Do Electrical Work? [Re: renosteinke]
HotLine1 Offline

Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6785
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Reno:

Based on your calcs regarding 'mileage', I'm roughly in the same travel class. 50 mi. 1 way, and add whatever 'personal' additional little trips.

Here in NJ, I have to add tolls to the equation, at $4.00 per day for the commute. Yes, NJ has a low gas tax, and now low gas prices at the pump, but...a .23cent gas tax increase is on the horizon.

The electrical trade has provided a comfortable living. I now (15 yrs) 'moved' to the inspectors side of the fence.

I hear from many contractors that there is a 'shortage' of people in our trade that want to work. If this is localized to my area, or state wide I'm not sure.

Personally, looking at your comparisons, Id stick to our trade, and advise the 'youngsters' to go to trade school.
_________________________
John

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#217436 - 08/04/16 07:31 AM Re: Is It Worth It To Do Electrical Work? [Re: renosteinke]
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5299
Loc: Blue Collar Country
I don't see how the math works in favor of the trade, at least not here. I mean: $10 net vs. $8.50+ benefits+ steady work?

What's the steady work impact? Well, last year I worked about 9 months out of twelve. 75%. ).75 x $10 = $7.50. Your actual annual earnings are less than those of the burger flipper.

Small wonder there's a "shortage." It's not a matter of simply "wanting" to work ... it's the market telling me that my efforts are better rewarded when used elsewhere.

Now, consider another location: St. Louis. Not only is the pay better (PW around $35), but your drive is likely to be closer to 15 miles than 50. Wild guess? There you'd be comparing an (adjusted) $20 to that minimum wage. Now, that's more like it!

Yet, that St. Louis burger flipper won't see much more than minimum wage. So, the contrast is greater.

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#217437 - 08/04/16 09:47 AM Re: Is It Worth It To Do Electrical Work? [Re: renosteinke]
gfretwell Offline

Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9012
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
It is really better to work as a 1099 contractor if the company is not providing a lot of benefits because those expenses are "first dollar" deductible on a schedule C. Things like mileage, tools and special clothes have a 2% threshold, based on total income, if you have to file as an employee and "commuting" mileage is not usually deductible at all. To collect "commuting" as a contractor, be sure to have a home office deduction, if it is just a tiny corner of your garage. I went through this when I was inspecting, as a contractor for the state. I got audited and the IRS guy was surprisingly helpful in getting my deductions accepted.
_________________________
Greg Fretwell

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#217441 - 08/05/16 11:38 PM Re: Is It Worth It To Do Electrical Work? [Re: renosteinke]
Potseal Offline
Member

Registered: 02/23/13
Posts: 187
Loc: Saskatchewan
I can't complain.

Unionized.

Work hours are 7:30 am to 4 pm, Mon. to Fri., and weekends off. They provide us with Arc Flash rated uniforms and we get $150.00 towards work boots each year. All our tools are supplied. Sometimes we are provided with training for various job related technology. We HAVE TO take Arc Flash Safety, Fall Protection, and Lift Training classes. Wages are about $32.00/hr with various benefits and pension plan. Recently we were given a quarterly "retention bonus" of $2000.00.

Yet, some guys still complain. For me, it's the best job I've ever had.


Edited by Potseal (08/05/16 11:40 PM)
_________________________
A malfunction at the junction

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#217445 - 08/06/16 07:44 AM Re: Is It Worth It To Do Electrical Work? [Re: renosteinke]
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5299
Loc: Blue Collar Country
Those are very good points .... clearly the market varies from place to place!

Here: $18 - long drive - everything else - Obamacare; no retirement, 9 month work year. Ho training; OSHA class at your expense.

Your area: $32 + bonus + clothing + benefits. I suspect the commute is less and work more regular.

Rough estimate, you're getting triple what this area pays.

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#217447 - 08/06/16 10:11 AM Re: Is It Worth It To Do Electrical Work? [Re: renosteinke]
HotLine1 Offline

Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6785
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Reno:

One thing you did not put into perspective is the cost of living in various areas of the US, and Canada.

On top of locations, there are different 'types' of jobs to be on. Plant/factory, new construction, mid and hi-rise, resi, service, etc.

Based on location, some may be 'able/capable' open shop doing mostly everything, some may be 'closed shop'.

Heck, here in NJ the debate continues about the cost per mile of road construction; ranges from <$300k to "around $3,000,000 per mile.

The range Potseal said sounds 'close' to 'factory' rates here based on US $$. (Avg. of $45 in pocket+benefits). These types of employers are 'thin' in my area.

The fact that a retention bonus is offered seems to indicate that qualified employees are either scarce, or there is growth in the area.



Edited by HotLine1 (08/06/16 01:18 PM)
_________________________
John

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#217451 - 08/06/16 10:41 AM Re: Is It Worth It To Do Electrical Work? [Re: renosteinke]
Potseal Offline
Member

Registered: 02/23/13
Posts: 187
Loc: Saskatchewan
My circumstances were not envied by others in the trade a few years ago. The electricians working at the mines and oil fields here and in Alberta were printing money. If you could handle the lifestyle without spending it like a drunken sailor those 20 year-old guys could have probably retired in their 40's. Unfortunately most of what you see and here is that they spent it as fast or faster than they could make it.

Now, there is more electrical contractors popping up in town than I've ever seen and word has it from various sources that bids on jobs are extremely competitive.
_________________________
A malfunction at the junction

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#217457 - 08/07/16 09:23 AM Re: Is It Worth It To Do Electrical Work? [Re: renosteinke]
HotLine1 Offline

Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6785
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Is the fact of more electrical contractors are popping up creating a 'shortage' of electricians? Or are the prospects of 'winning' a bid creating a possible glut of contractors?
_________________________
John

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#217461 - 08/07/16 04:19 PM Re: Is It Worth It To Do Electrical Work? [Re: Potseal]
twh Offline
Member

Registered: 03/11/04
Posts: 892
Loc: Regina, Sask.
Originally Posted By: Potseal
I can't complain.

Unionized.

Work hours are 7:30 am to 4 pm, Mon. to Fri., and weekends off. They provide us with Arc Flash rated uniforms and we get $150.00 towards work boots each year. All our tools are supplied. Sometimes we are provided with training for various job related technology. We HAVE TO take Arc Flash Safety, Fall Protection, and Lift Training classes. Wages are about $32.00/hr with various benefits and pension plan. Recently we were given a quarterly "retention bonus" of $2000.00.

Yet, some guys still complain. For me, it's the best job I've ever had.


A little context would help. $32 Canadian is $24 US. A couple years ago, we were near par but low oil and potash prices really hurt the Canadian dollar. It might be more accurate to say that high oil an potash prices inflated the dollar and now it's back to where it should be.

The glut of contractors is reminiscent of the 1980s when the economy tanked. Everyone who gets laid off or isn't getting full time hours gets a contractors' licence. It's a last effort to stay in the trade, or in the area. It's sad to see people spend their savings on new trucks.

I think Potseal and I are in the same city. There is a house for sale on every street.

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