Why does your friend have a big smile on his face every time you see him? It could be because he’s a blue collar worker and growth in that sector is occurring at the fastest rate since 1984. In fact, there are now more blue collar job openings than white collar job openings

This hot labor market is increasing wages with many jobs earning 6 figures and, since we’ve already talked about the minimal debt associated with choosing an apprenticeship over going to college, that’s a lot of dough they are able to spend or save however they like. 

Now, we can even quantify just how happy they are. A survey from Express Employment Professionals and Harris Poll called “The State of Blue Collar America” sampled blue collar workers to get a feel for their current attitudes. The results were impressive:

  • 86% say they are satisfied with their job
  • 91% say they are proud of their work
  • 74% say there is a good career path in their line of work
  • 68% received a pay increase in the last year, and 25% received an increase of 10% or more
  • 80% are optimistic about the future

That’s a lot of satisfied employees! 

In addition, the average current job tenure for those surveyed was 10 years. Pretty steady for a career path that often gets looked down on. In fact, the majority of those surveyed would recommend that young people follow in their footsteps. Yet, parental and school guidance is one of the top impediments to blue collar employment. 

When I read that just 16% of blue collar workers say their parents had an influence on their career path, I couldn’t help but think of another article I read titled Big Money, No Debt: The Blunt New Pitch for Blue-Collar Workers.

I was struck by this passage:

“Indeed, the 40 plumbers at Superior Plumbing in Atlanta earn around $90,000 in wages and commissions — about 70 percent higher than the region’s average income. Owner Jay Cunningham figures he could immediately fill 20 more plumbing jobs if he could find people with the right set of skills and a presentable appearance and demeanor. He blames the talent shortage on parental bias for college over the trades.”

I agreed immediately with what he said, so I was happy to find some supporting evidence in this survey. Of those in the poll, 46% of those who graduated from college wish that they had not. Now, this isn’t to say I’m anti-college. 

As I’ve covered extensively in the past, with my thoughts on the value of apprenticeships, whether you need to go to college or not, and steps for choosing a career path, attending college is a personal choice that depends on your career objectives. If you need it to get where you want (and it’s even necessary for some blue collar jobs) then good luck! 

One last piece of good news. Regardless of which way the political winds will be blowing in a few years, blue collar workers are likely to continue with their charmed lives as baby boomers continue to retire and too many young people continue to choose 4-year degrees. So if you’re already in the field or thinking about joining, rejoice because there’s never been a better time to become a blue collar worker.