Better Wages: Are Blue-Collar Workers Facing a Promising Future?

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a blue collar worker installing a solar panel

Blue-collar jobs — especially for skilled workers — is highly in demand. Companies are scrambling for skilled personnel to fill their ranks. This growing demand for blue-collar workers has resulted in more openings, higher wages, better benefits, and additional incentives. Companies want to reel in new workers as they do their utmost to keep the ones they have.

The Big Three

Transportation, construction, and manufacturing are the three biggest industries offering skilled trade jobs. The tax cuts and deregulations under President Trump have allowed these industries to flourish and expand their operations, resulting in the need for more workers. Under the Trump administration, Americans have more spending power — and more spending power leads to a stronger demand for manufactured goods.

Fewer regulations and lower taxes have allowed manufacturing companies to expand their various operations and hire additional personnel to meet this sharp rise in demand. This spike in manufacturing resulted in a similar spike in transportation. Goods need to be transferred from factories to various commercial establishments, and this requires a lot of manpower. Construction jobs have also flourished under the Trump administration. In the past year, there were more than 300,000 new jobs in construction and wages broke past the $30/hour range.

More Demand In the Future

There is a looming shortage of blue-collar workers. As more high school students opt for college instead of trade schools, industries reliant on skilled trade workers are in dire need of new blood. Skilled blue-collar workers are an aging demographic — most of them are in their late forties, and some are nearing retirement age.

The need for younger workers is most apparent in the transportation sector. The average age of truck drivers in the U.S. is 55 years old — just a few years away from retirement. Some companies are partnering with trade schools to offer apprentice programs and even offering incentives for new hires.

Trade School vs. College

students attending their class

A college degree is often touted as the surest way to success. However, trade schools offer an alternative path, which in many instances is superior to that of college. You only need two years to finish trade school, while being in college requires four years of your time. Only a few students actually finish on time and there is a significantly high percentage of students who end up dropping out without finishing their degrees.

You can easily find employment after finishing trade school. Often, you spend a portion of your schooling in an apprenticeship program of an actual company. On the other hand, close to 50% of college graduates will hold jobs not even requiring a college degree. Degrees in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields are in demand, but positions are limited for other degree holders. A majority of college graduates are underemployed or are working in a job unrelated to their field of study.

Blue-collar work is once-again becoming a viable career path. Wages are becoming competitive and skilled workers will often earn more than rank and file office workers.