Blue-collar hiring and pay increases remained hot in a cooling job market in 2020, as companies continued to invest in expanded automation technologies and digital transformation initiatives. Factory workers and other non-white collar positions saw pay increases, despite the overall tightening in the labor market.
Gains were most pronounced in production occupations, with pay moving up by 4.2 percent, and transportation and material moving occupations, with wages rising by 4 percent. Pay also increased in professional and related occupations, with a 0.6 percent gain, and office and administrative support, which saw a 0.5 percent gain.
The steady steady pace of blue-collar job growth and higher wages was seen across all major industries, with durable goods manufacturing leading the way. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the industry had 763,000 jobs added last year, the most in 10 years.
The steady stream of hiring was helped by manufacturers investing in new technologies to automate processes, and by digital transformation investments that allowed them to produce more with fewer people. This industrial revolution was also aided by the pandemic-induced shift to online orders, as well as the related need for workers to pick, pack, and ship products.
Healthcare jobs were also in high demand, as the sector saw substantial growth in both pay and jobs, rising by 3.1 percent and 3.4 percent respectively.
Overall, the higher wages and employment gains for blue-collar workers provided a bright spot during a year marked by significant job losses. However, with technology and automation continuing to make inroads, blue-collar workers may face an uncertain future in an ever-changing job market.