Market Outlook

Here’s all the cost and escalation information you’ve come to know and trust from Sellen. For more information, contact:


Subcontractor Escalation


Subcontractors continue to remain very busy and labor resources are still a challenge for Northwest general contractors. Last year, we saw labor costs increase dramatically. They have continued to increase in 2019, primarily because of trade negotiations.

Material Costs Escalation


Material costs are largely tariff dependent. Owners can expect material costs to make up around 40 percent of overall job costs.



We predict general escalation rates will slightly lower in 2020 and 2021 and level out in 2022-2024. The chart at right shows where we have been, and where we think the costs are trending.

Labor Trends


The labor market supply doesn’t match the high volume of work we continue to see in our region, and labor is tight in all trades. Tradespeople have been selective on which projects they choose to work, and they will continue to do so. The trade negotiations in 2019 were:

  • Communication Workers (non-NECA)
  • Glaziers
  • Sprinkler Fitters
  • Lathers and Sheetrockers
  • Drywall Finishers
  • Plasterers and Fireproofers
  • Carpet Layers (Seattle and Tacoma)

In 2020, only a few labor agreements are up for renewal. 2021 has the majority of labor contracts to be negotiated.