Carl Wiens

In May 2006 construction-related employment peaked at 6.5 million jobs; by 2010 (post-recession) that figure was 4.9 million jobs. The lowest paid employees in the industry — carpenters, carpenter helpers, laborers — were the hardest hit. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for carpenters during the recession decreased 45% in residential construction (23% in non-residential construction). And if they hadn’t been laid off, they saw their wages stagnate or decrease.

Other residential remodeling occupations were affected, too; wages decreased and benefits shrank or completely disappeared.

From most accounts, the worst is over; consumers are looking to do remodeling projects again and remodeling companies are taking on employees. But company owners have become more conservative in their hiring practices. Many are using a lot more subcontracted labor than they did before the recession, and they’re cutting back on benefits that were offered during the boom years.

What follows are stories and statistics gleaned from remodelers around the nation.