Blue-collar workers for the most part are faring better than white-collar workers during the pandemic-induced recession, something of a flip compared to other recent economic downturns, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Sunday (Feb. 21).
“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,” according to the report.
WSJ cited data indicating job growth has been especially strong in housing, warehouse work, driving and manufacturing. A big factor in the growth of blue-collar jobs has been the rise of eCommerce.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Chief Economist David Berson told WSJ: “The demand for the workers is not going to go down. We’re still going to need good warehousing. We will continue to see great strength in the demand in the construction area, particularly housing.”
Another factor WSJ cited in the recovery of blue-collar jobs is low interest rates that have fueled demand for housing by making mortgages more affordable.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said earlier this month that she expects the United States could return to full employment in 2022. Without a stimulus plan, she said, the recovery likely would take until 2025.
A tricky facet of the official unemployment rate is that it doesn’t reflect the status of workers who have given up looking for work. A data set produced by the federal Bureau Labor Statistics called the Current Population Survey shows, among other things, the percentage of the country’s civilian population that is working.
The January installment had 57.5 percent of the population working. The figure represents an increase from April’s 51.3 percent, but is below the average percentage for the data dating to 1986.
Labor economists have attributed the low rates during the pandemic to the need of many workers to stay home with children, in addition to the closing of establishments.