67% of blue collar workers say COVID-19 changed how society views their jobs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic put the spotlight on blue collar workers-the men and women who produced essential products, continued delivery and distribution of items, maintained vital infrastructure and more. Two thirds (67%) of these blue collar workers believe this historic time period changed how people view blue collar jobs, and 75% of white collar workers agree with this sentiment.

The findings are clear:

  • Blue collar workers remain optimistic about the future.
  • They feel more respected and appreciated than in the past.
  • They are proud of the work they do, and the majority like the work they do.
  • They encourage others to pursue similar careers.
  • While they have concerns, the vast majority are not worried about losing their jobs or being replaced by automation.

Meaningful Work

The vast majority of blue collar workers (91%) say they feel proud of the work they do. When asked how they feel about their jobs, 84% used positive descriptors such as knowledgeable (53%), confident (46%) and valued (44%).

Overall, 62% like their jobs, citing a variety of reasons:

53% say they like their jobs because they make a good living wage.

37% say they like their jobs because they are being challenged.

33% say they like their jobs because they are able to help others/have a sense of purpose.

Nearly three-fourths of blue collar workers in the U.S. (74%) say there is a good career path in their line of work.

Fresh Concerns

Even with this general positivity, blue collar workers have concerns:

  • 28% cite personal safety or danger of the job.
  • 20% mention long hours.
  • 20% lament high performance demands.
  • Just 13% say there are no advancement opportunities.

The pandemic may have made blue collar workers feel more appreciated, but it has also added new stresses and pressures to their jobs-especially as they feel the effects of a strained labor force.

Nearly three-fourths (73%) of blue collar workers say their work-life balance has been impacted by the current labor shortage. More blue collar workers than white collar workers (60%) say this. Nearly two in five (37%) blue collar workers have had a heavier workload due to staff shortages.

The Future of Blue Collar Work

More than 2 in 5 (42%) believe there will be more jobs available in their field in the next 10 years, up from 2018 (35%). Just 26% believe there will be fewer jobs available.

One of the most commonly heard views about blue collar careers is that automation will displace these workers. But among blue collar workers, it hardly seems to be a concern as just 8% are concerned about being replaced by automation. Only 7% worry about losing their jobs in the near future, down from 13% in 2018.

Blue collar workers have always been the backbone of the American economy, and the COVID-19 pandemic provided a stark reminder for anyone who had forgotten that. These heroic individuals keep our country running with leadership that has earned them renewed respect in the eyes of Americans. And as the economy recovers, blue collar job prospects are more numerous and lucrative than at any time in recent history. Take blue collar workers’ word for it-now is the time to pursue one of these careers.

 

William H. “Bill” Stoller is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment International. Express Employment serves the River Parishes from its office on Gonzales. The company is a member of the LaPlace Branch of Business 2 Business and the River Region Chamber of Commerce.