/Blue-Collar Jobs Boom as Covid-19 Boosts Housing, E-Commerce Demand – The Wall Street Journal

Blue-Collar Jobs Boom as Covid-19 Boosts Housing, E-Commerce Demand – The Wall Street Journal


America’s blue-collar workforce is filled with signs of a strengthening job market.

An Orlando, Fla.-area home builder is seeking to add four construction workers to a six-person team in the midst of soaring housing demand during the pandemic. In Atlanta, a forklift driver rakes in overtime pay because the warehouse that employs him is so busy distributing packages. A Chicago-based truck-trailer manufacturer is increasingly hosting drive-through job fairs and raising wages by up to 7% as hiring picks up across its nine production plants.

Nationally, employment in residential construction, package delivery and warehousing now exceeds pre-pandemic levels. Manufacturers have steadily added back jobs after slashing payrolls last spring, though employment remains down about 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 show.

Strength in housing and e-commerce during the pandemic has helped propel hiring in blue-collar occupations, which were hard hit by previous recessions. 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.

“The demand for the workers is not going to go down,” said David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. “We’re still going to need good warehousing. undefinedWe will continue to see great strength in the demand in the construction area, particularly housing.”

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