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Blue Collar Job Sectors

In today’s Blue Collar Jobs Tracker (BCJT), author Matt Sedlar illustrates how the current struggle for job quality harkens back to the early US labor movement that brought us Labor Day.

While the Trump Administration tends to boast over monthly job gains in the blue collar sectors, absent from the discussion is whether these are “good” jobs. A good job, in this case, is defined as one with growing wages and strong worker protections.

Sedlar’s analysis confirms that, based on that definition, “the sad truth is not all jobs in the US are good jobs.”

The most notable sign of this is the lack of wage growth in blue collar jobs even as the number of jobs continues to grow and the overall unemployment rate drops.

In many states, manufacturing and construction workers’ hourly wages have not kept up with inflation since 2008. In a recent national survey of construction firms, respondents indicated they were having trouble filling positions, yet in states where wages have stagnated, few of the survey respondents indicated they have increased pay for hourly workers or improved benefits to attract more workers.

Also eroding job quality are laws that target worker protection and collective bargaining such as “right to work” laws, which have been found to hurt both union and nonunion workers.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives.

CEPR was co-founded by economists Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot in 1999.


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