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ETpro's avatar

Blue-collar jobs are in demand for 2010. Isn't it about time we get back to actually making things instead of just shuffling money and calling it profit?

Asked by ETpro (34503points) February 9th, 2010

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people skilled in construction in the building trades and repair of automobiles and machinery are in demand. And with the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and need to green itself, these jobs will be around for years to come. If you are ready for a change from Dilbert’s world of cubicles, might blue collar work be worth a try?

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19 Answers

CMaz's avatar

Manufacturing in other countries s so cheep. Doing it here in the USA.
We could/would not be able to afford our own product.

LunaChick's avatar

It would be great to get back to manufacturing products in the United States. Unfortunately, as @ChazMaz stated, the products would be very expensive – the average citizen would not be able to afford many of the products made here.

Cruiser's avatar

There is an army of qualified unemployed blue collar workers waiting for the phone to ring. Plus I found out the local plumber journeymen earn $42.00 per hour!! HS that’s a load of coin more than most Dilbert keyboard strokers get.!

Judi's avatar

I hope the construction guys we just had to lay off can find those “In demand” jobs! Our most recent employee had been with us 8 years. :-(

john65pennington's avatar

I could not agree with you more. but, some serious topics have to be addressed before this event can happen. unions and union salaries and illegal immigrants, just to name a few.

drhat77's avatar

Manufacturing is important, but other jobs aren’t just “shuffling money around”

Yes a lot of it is meetings and memos and other killer busy work but it helps organizations run more effeciently

noyesa's avatar

There’s certainly work with the hands to be done, but the politics don’t favor us. The US was the manufacturing envy of the world just 50 years ago.

The information age has brought globalization, but it’s not entirely the fault of the telecommunications systems that are available around the world, but the cheap energy. It costs so little to move something from China to the US that, going by prices, we can hardly tell what’s made here and what isn’t. And on top of that, American companies don’t have to pay livable wages to Chinese shop workers, and they certainly aren’t going to provide them with any benefits.

However, I think it’s a stretch to say that the only place where there is money to be made is shuffling money around—most people do not work in the finance industry. At that, the finance industry doesn’t entirely work by shuffling money around. It is, at the end of the day, service for a fee. You pay a fee (interest) for a loan, you pay the person at H&R block to fill out your tax forms.

There are a lot of high growth sectors in the United States: software, medicine, biotechnology, agriculture, just to name a few. These aren’t all blue-collor jobs, and they certainly aren’t just shuffling money around, which only works when industries like these are actually experiencing growth, i.e., when there’s money to shuffle. If they don’t, the banks don’t profit.

Oil is going to become more expensive, plain and simple. It might not happen tomorrow, it might not happen for 20 years, but oil is going to continually get more expensive and the price is never going back down. If there is no growth in oil production (which there won’t be), there will be little economic growth. But firstly, it won’t be so easy to bring something 10,000 miles across the sea onto a Walmart shelf.

Things are going to have to become local. We’re going to have to start growing our food, making our possessions, and finding our work locally. And with that you’ll see a rise in manufacturing jobs again.

jackm's avatar

instead of just shuffling money and calling it profit?
This makes no sense, and shows that you have no grasp on economics.

As someone stated before, we couldn’t profitably compete with other countries in manufacturing. This is because we have minimum wage, unions, etc. We are a tech/highly skilled economy.

noyesa's avatar

@jackm The real crux of the issue isn’t minimum wage, but that we need a minimum wage. The amount of money someone has to make in this country to earn a living is very high, much higher than it costs to earn the accepted living conditions in countries like Mexico, China, or most of South America. Our standard of living is so high that to afford even the cheapest housing, you have to spend, per year, more than most blue-collar workers in developing countries see in a decade. We don’t pay people minimum wage because the unions and workers rallied to get paid more for the same work, but because people need to get paid a minimum amount to be able to afford anything—food, water, shelter, and don’t even get me started on transportation.

It costs much less in other parts of the world, and as such, it’s cheaper to do business there. We’re not required to pay them more than we are, and they’re not going to beg for more since jobs like those really are rarities in most of those countries, even if it doesn’t even begin to approximate the standard of living in the United States. People don’t need cars in China, India, and many wouldn’t dream of ever owning one. In the US, it’s a requirement—and all of the costs that come along with it. This is the lifestyle we chose seemingly without regard to the consequences it has and will continue to have on the unfortunate.

fireside's avatar

I read this question differently than the people who are saying that manufacturing is cheaper outside the US. I think it is more like the suggested ending of Office Space; Maybe people would be happier with their jobs if they worked at fixing the infrastructure of this country in construction jobs.

I think that there will probably be more people moving to this line of work as the unemployment checks run out. Many of the laid off workers are still getting decent unemployment salaries and would find it difficult to reconcile taking a job that pays the same or less with much more required effort.

Also, I think that age and physical condition play a pretty big part in who would take construction jobs. Not to mention skill set. If an office worker with no previous experience at construction were to apply for a job, it would be a while before they were able to regain their previous salaries.

They may not have much choice eventually, but I don’t think that most people have given up the hope of an economic turnaround with a new set of jobs more similar to what they had previously had experience working.

wundayatta's avatar

“nation’s crumbling infrastructure.” The old bromide. Anyone have any idea what’s going on with our infrastructure? What really happening on the ground, instead of in reporters broom closets?

Holden_Caulfield's avatar

To me, this is black and white thinking… with all due respect. There are service jons that do not really create anything, but serve a purpose. Healthcare is a perfect example, as are Non-Profits. They do not necessarily create something in the sense of your question/comment, but they are valuable and they do not just shift money around.

ETpro's avatar

To all who talked about manufacturing, the article was about the building trades and repair, not manufacturing. But I hear you. We need to find ways to bring manufacturing back on-shore. Wage concessions, an end to employer-supported health insurance, new industries—whatever it takes.

@Cruiser Ha! A friend of mine worked an office job in downtown Minneapolis. Steelworkers were putting up a tower next door to her building, and one of her neighbors was on the job. It was mid winter and a cold day. At lunch, she made a big sign and put it in the window saying, “Mike, it’s 75 Degrees in here.” When she came back by, he had a sing up saying, “It’s $48.50 an hour out here.”

@fireside Exactly. I used to be a carpenter. I now build websites, so I am in an office banging on a keyboard now, but I still have a sense of building something, even if it is virtual. At the end of the day, I can see what I have done. I like that. I think it’s satisfying on a deeply human level.

ETpro's avatar

@Holden_Caulfield When I spoke of shifting money around, I had in mind the day traders, folks making money on the currency exchange, high end finance where millions a day are made by bundling securities and repackaging them as derivatives that are further leveraged, hedge funds, etc, etc.

mattbrowne's avatar

Most white-collar jobs are not about shuffling money and calling it profit.

Like creating new ideas to solve the energy crisis. Before you can manufacture green technologies, which requires blue-collar jobs, you need to figure out what to produce.

A white-collar guy in Switzerland invented the world wide web. Now more computers are being sold because people find the web useful.

I agree that creating speculative bubbles is an unethical form of making profits.

Steve_A's avatar

@ETpro Do you think this would make a stronger foundation if America gets back to making its own things?

ETpro's avatar

@Steve_A Most definitely so. Real wealth is produced by making things, by growing thangs, mining things, and inventing things. Financial services and all the rest of the service industries do very worthwhile things. We need banks and hospitals and dentists and hotels… But we can’t build a viable society without some of us actually producing things.

Steve_A's avatar

@ETpro Late on the reponse here…hah.

Do you think it might be too late for America to turn around, that maybe its turning itselfs in another direction in terms of how the country produces it’s own goods,inventions,etc…

It seems maybe we are or have adapted to giving our jobs to other countries for the sake of a quick dollar but a poor foundation?

Least thats the way I kind of see it, but enlighten if you can I am all ears.

ETpro's avatar

@Steve_A I do think it’s going to take quite an upheaval. The American meme is so confused, so pointed at actually supporting a transition from a society with a strong middle class to one with a tiny handful of oilgarchs (or perhaps more properly corporatists) running things that I don’t see an easy way to turn direction. We have too many people now convinced they must vote for a system that they simply do not realize is robbing them to give to the rich.

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