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These industries are hiring labor workers now

It's still possible to find a blue-collar job in manufacturing, construction and transportation.
These industries are hiring labor workers now
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Contrary to conventional wisdom, blue-collar jobs are not disappearing. In fact, there’s a labor shortage in manufacturing, construction, and transportation and storage — the three industries traditionally associated with the working class.

Using the ZipRecruiter Opportunity Index, which compares the number of available jobs to job seekers in real time, we examined the employment situation in the three largest blue-collar industries. Despite looming threats that could eliminate jobs from these industries — automation, artificial intelligence and trade wars — we found that employers in these sectors still need workers now.


  • Opportunity index: 0.60
  • Top job market: Rural Minnesota
  • Top skill: Assembly line experience

The manufacturing industry faces a number of headwinds, yet it continues to show steady growth. Although nowhere near its peak employment of the late 1970s, manufacturing has continually added jobs since the depths of the recession in 2010 — and despite the Trump tariffs this upward trend has continued through June.

With about one job available for every two workers seeking manufacturing employment in June, opportunity in the industry is the highest we have seen since June 2016. Although one could argue manufacturing is the industry most affected by technological unemployment, the top skill sought by employers right now is assembly line experience, revealing the human touch is still a necessity on the factory floor.


  • Opportunity index: 0.79
  • Top job market: Rural New York
  • Top skill: General construction experience

Because of the severe and continuing labor shortage across the U.S., annual construction wage growth has outpaced all private sector growth by nearly a full percentage point over the past three years, according to a recent study from Zillow. The same study showed residential construction workers enjoyed a 5 percent year-over-year pay bump in April of this year, which is two full percentage points higher than the national average.

The construction opportunity index of 0.79 is the highest we have on record for the industry, going back to June 2015. An opportunity index score of 1 means there is one job available for every worker seeking that job. Anything higher than that indicates a dearth of available workers. While the national average as of June hasn’t quite hit the one-to-one mark, nearly half of the 400 metropolitan and urban job markets we track have more job openings than workers to fill them.

Transportation and storage

  • Opportunity index: 0.61
  • Top job market: Rural Vermont
  • Top skill: Class A driver’s license

The opportunity index for the transportation and storage industry has nearly doubled since June 2017. Between the two subcategories, truck drivers are in highest demand, with a national opportunity index of 1.46 in June. The labor shortage among warehouse workers is significantly lower at 0.25, meaning there are about four applicants for every opening.

This disparity is likely due to the fact that automation has taken hold in warehouses more quickly than on the highway. With the meteoric rise in e-commerce over the past several years, demand for storage and transportation of consumer goods has skyrocketed. And while drones have already replaced many warehouse workers, a fully autonomous tractor trailer remains on the distant horizon, which has already led some transportation companies to increase pay and incentives for licensed Class A drivers.

Photo courtesy ToolsTotal

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