We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Yeah, labor rates have really skyrocketed! Of course, that's part of the reason why so many things aren't worth fixing.
Interesting thing I found - civil airplane mechanics get the same rate as car mechanics. A friend of mine was certified in just about everything - airframe, engines, etc. and he said he couldn't get any more than a car mechanic! It was the big carriers that paid the money. Of course, they're all unionized.
I own an auto repair shop here in Raleigh, NC; my rate is $102/hr. Whenever a customer comments, I make comparison with a plumber's rate. $125.00 down here, and they don't have to learn anew, each new model year, the innards of the 40+ different species of beastie we practice upon. In spite of my exorbitant rate, a competent mechanic can always repair or maintain a car at a far lower aggregate cost compared with replacement. A car is very rarely an investment. I advise my customers to consider it a transportation service. As long as the monthly repair cost averaged over a period of years is less than that loan payment or lease (plus repair, maintenance, higher insurance costs which come with the new car smell), the only requirement for replacement is emotional. As a transplanted Yankee, I find emotion a frivolous expense.
After reading that gunsmiths make $150 per hour I googled "gunsmith salaries". You know what? They are starving! Not making any where near what you describe. I imagine there are some people making that amount, but from what I read on a simple search most were making far less than that. This is the kind of thing that irritates me about Maggies. Effete yankees.
If you can remember as far back as 1960 (or if you had a car then) today's $97 would have been $12.88. I was pumping gas then, but can't remember what the boss was getting for labor - I'd bet it was somewhere in that neighborhood, and he didn't have nearly as much expensive diagnostic equipment as a new shop has to have. I was making just under a buck an hour (good wages for a gas jockey then) which comes to just under $7.50 today.
There are two or three different systems that repair shops use to charge - there is a shop rate which is, say, $60/hr. Each assigned task has an completion time attached to it. So say, on an outboard engine, it takes an hour to replace a starter (its a Yamaha or Mercury - Evinrude engines don't need repairs) that's $60 plus shop supplies (and the cost of the part - if you can get the part because Yamaha's are notorious for parts shortages - unlike Evinrude which gets you your part next day). If the mechanic does the job in 38 minutes, thats 22 minutes of profit. Of that, the mechanic get his hourly rate plus 50% of the overage or $11 - the shop gets the rest. So if the mechanic is getting $20/hr, he just made $31 in that hour.
There are other variations on this same theme, but that's how it usually works.
With respect to gunsmiths, that national average also includes those who work at manufacturers. Even down here in SC, the gunsmith who worked on my .44 Magnum revolver last week was $90/hr. Admittedly she's a great gunsmith and highly recommended, but still... :>)
I stop looking at gunsmithing after reading some interviews with the Brownells who has an incentive for more gunsmiths. He said it was a tough business. Most sells guns and other things on the side. the liability is the hardest part. Nobody is going to pay $175 an hour to have someone work on a Remington 870 or Winchester, maybe one of those fancy 1911's or doubles. Depending on where you live $40,000 a year for being your own boss may not be too bad.
Also salary does not always equal employee compensation. Employees look at salary or maybe take home pay. Employers look at employee cost which inlcludes benefits, additional payroll taxes and paid time off. In my case the difference was 34% -- so my cost to the boss was, 134% of my salary. (nice benefits) Add in the cost of work space, supplies, transportation and you begin to get close to the labor charge or bill rate. Blick