“The U.S.’s blue-collar workforce has begun to benefit from a strengthening job market,” WSJ writes.
On a national level, we’re seeing employment in the following areas exceed pre-pandemic levels:
- Residential Construction
- Package Delivery
Why It Matters: A building boom for housing and the robust expansion of e-commerce has jumpstarted hiring in blue-collar professions, which had previously suffered from recessions.
- One factor has been the drop in short-term interest rates from the Federal Reserve, which has incentivized the construction and housing surge.
- In residential construction alone, employment in the sector has risen 1% while it has fallen 6.5% across all industries.
- Rapid growth in online ordering throughout the pandemic has revolutionized how goods are distributed, requiring more drives and intermediaries to supply home delivery at a record pace.
The Details: “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.”
- In fact, many blue-collar companies are struggling to find workers to maintain the demand levels. A combination of Covid-19 health concerns and increased child-care responsibilities stemming from restrictions have shrunk the talent pool.
Looking Ahead: It’s possible these blue-collar occupations continue to grow, albeit, at a slower pace, once Covid-19 is sufficiently contained. The key factor here is whether online orders and a “buoyant housing market” will remain elevated even after the vaccine rollout takes hold and consumers shift back to spending on services.
- Service-industry jobs, such as retail and restaurants, are expected to experience a significant comeback after the pandemic fades as well, leading to further economic growth.
We’re undergoing a boom in package delivery and housing (which we talked about in Morning Cents 2/16). I believe housing will continue to be strong post-pandemic, but it will be interesting what happens to delivery numbers once vaccines become fully-distributed.