Well-paying blue-collar jobs have been skyrocketing across the country with many open positions returning to levels not seen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to EmployBridge workforce analyst Joanie Bily.
Bily, during an appearance on “Mornings With Maria,” explained that strong demand in manufacturing, logistics as well as trade and transportation have seen the number of job postings for skilled labor increase to 6.6 million in December 2020 compared to 6.5 million in December 2019.
“There is certainly a boom and a really strong demand for blue-collar workers right now,” Bily said.
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“The job postings are significantly up in the supply chain industry,” she added. “There’s just a need for the warehouse workers and logistics and we can see that in the demand for consumer goods.”
The demand shift has occurred largely as a result of changes in consumer trends, with people choosing to stay home during the pandemic, thus increasing the need for at-home deliveries for products.
Despite this shift, Bily said that the same factors increasing demand are also making it difficult to fill blue-collar positions.
Factors impacting the labor force include job searchers applying for remote jobs over health and safety concerns, generous unemployment benefits, and unpredictable school reopening plans.
However, people on the lower end of the pay scale who lost their jobs during the pandemic in travel and leisure, hospitality, and retail can likely transition into unfilled supply chain jobs, with a potential for increased wages in certain sectors like logistics.
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“The hourly wages now for a logistics worker has increased way above what a minimum wage would be for an hourly worker,” explained Bily.
She cited the need for technical skills from the emergence of artificial intelligence and robotics within the industry as one of the factors increasing wages.
Nationally, employment in residential construction, package delivery, and warehousing now exceeds pre-pandemic levels. Manufacturers have steadily added back jobs after cutting payrolls last spring, though employment remains down 5% from February 2020, according to Labor Department data. Job openings in many blue-collar occupations broke above pre-virus levels last summer and remain significantly elevated, figures from the online job site Indeed shows.
Strength in housing and e-commerce during the pandemic has helped propel hiring in blue-collar occupations. Many economists and companies expect blue-collar jobs to continue growing, though at a slower pace after the coronavirus is contained. They predict the key factors driving employer demand for blue-collar workers — a swift pickup in online orders and a buoyant housing market — will largely stay even after vaccines are widely distributed and consumers shift some of their spending from goods to services.
FOX Business’ Sarah Chaney Cambon contributed to this report.