After years of job losses and wage stagnation, are things finally looking up for America’s blue-collar workers? More than 80% say they’re happy with their jobs and feel their chosen career provides a good living, a survey of more than 1,000 workers in construction, manufacturing and other traditionally blue-collar occupations found.
Sixty-eight percent said their wages had gone up in the past year, and 85% believed their lives were heading in the right direction. The survey was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals. Today, about 20 million Americans working in the kind of hands-on, manual labor jobs that people usually think of as blue collar.
A growing need for certain types of blue-collar workers might also be contributing to feelings of optimism. America needs more construction workers, truck drivers, and people who can work in the skilled trades. While old-school manufacturing jobs might be hard to come by these days, there’s still a need for workers who are willing to make, build, and haul stuff. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these blue-collar occupations will see the most job growth between 2016 and 2026.
- Number of new jobs: 75,200
- Median salary: $52,590
You can’t outsource a plumber. This in-demand trade will grow by 16% by 2026 — an additional 75,200 jobs – mostly due to new construction and a need for repairs on existing buildings.
6. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
- Number of new jobs: 108,000
- Median salary: $42,480
America will need 108,000 more truck drivers by 2026, an increase of 5.8% from 2016. The median pay is $42,480. But with demand for drivers increasing, salaries are on the rise. Wages for truck drivers were up 18% from 2013 to 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported, with some earning as much as $86,000 a year.
5. Maintenance and repair workers
- Number of new jobs: 112,500
- Median salary: $37,670
As long as stuff keep breaking around the house, people will need to hire repair workers to come and fix things. These jacks of all trades earn a median of $37,670 a year. The BLS estimates the economy will add another 112,500 jobs for maintenance and repair workers in the coming years.
4. Landscaping and groundskeeping workers
- Number of new jobs: 135,200
- Median salary: $27,670
The number of landscaping and groundskeeping jobs will grow from about 1.2 million in 2016 to 1.3 million in 2026, an 11.3% increase.
3. Construction laborers
- Number of new jobs: 150,400
- Median salary: $34,530
A shortage of skilled construction workers is slowing down projects around the country. In July 2018, there were 263,000 open construction jobs around the U.S. By 2026, the number of jobs for construction laborers will grow by more than 12%.
2. Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand
- Number of new jobs: 199,700
- Median salary: $27,040
Many hand laborers work as pickers in warehouses. Companies like Amazon have been on a hiring spree lately, bringing on thousands of workers at locations around the country to fetch items for orders, though not everyone is happy with the working conditions and pay.
1. Janitors and cleaners
- Number of new jobs: 236,500
- Median salary: $24,990
Janitors and custodians help keep buildings spic and span. The number of jobs will grow by more than 236,000 by 2026, an increase of 9.9%
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