America’s blue-collar workforce is full of signs of a strengthening job market.
A home builder from the Orlando, Florida area is looking to add four construction workers to a six-person crew amid rising demand for homes during the pandemic. In Atlanta, a forklift driver gets paid overtime because the warehouse that employs him is too busy delivering packages. A Chicago-based truck and trailer manufacturer is increasingly hosting self-service job fairs and raising wages by as much as 7% as hiring increases at its nine manufacturing plants.
Nationwide, employment in residential construction, package delivery, and warehousing now exceeds pre-pandemic levels. Manufacturers have been steadily adding jobs again after slashing payrolls last spring, although employment is still falling about 5% since February 2020, according to data from the Labor Department. Job openings in many manual occupations surpassed pre-virus levels last summer and remain significantly high, figures from the online job site Indeed show.
The strength of housing and e-commerce during the pandemic has helped drive hiring in manual occupations, which were hit hard by previous recessions. Many economists and companies expect manual jobs to continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace, once the coronavirus is contained. They predict that the key factors driving employer demand for blue-collar workers – a rapid recovery in online orders and a dynamic housing market – will largely remain even after vaccines are widely distributed and consumers shift part of their expenses from goods to services.
“The demand for workers is not going to decrease,” said David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. “We are still going to need good storage. undefined We will continue to see a great strength in demand in the construction area, particularly housing ”.