Skilled technical and labor jobs in the U.S. are facing a rapidly intensifying labor shortage—despite offering high-paying jobs.
- Americans owe $1.74 trillion in student loan debt, and high-paying jobs are in high demand as a result.
- Several sectors of the U.S. economy with high-paying jobs need more apprenticeships and applications and need more new applicants.
- According to the recruitment company Handshake, interest in automotive, farming, plumbing, building, and electrical applications has dropped 49% in the past two years.
- NPR notes that the decline reflects a disinterest in skilled labor jobs among the younger generations like Gen Z and that the demand will only grow in the coming decades.
Why It’s News
The economic rebound post-COVID-19 has created a booming labor market so robust that it has outshined the rest of the economy suffering from high inflation and recession fears. Many industries struggle with labor shortages, including the service industry and skilled labor positions.
The number of young students applying for skilled labor jobs and apprenticeship programs is dropping, despite increasing demand. These jobs are all well paying. NPR reports the median salaries for carpenters, plumbers, and farmers are, respectively, $48,260, $59,880, and $73,060. As older skilled laborers age out, the demand is only going to grow more intense.
“Researchers from Handshake tracked how the number of applications for technical roles vs. the number of job postings has changed over the last two years. While postings for those roles—automotive technicians, equipment installers, and respiratory therapists, to name a few—saw on average ten applications each in 2020, they got about five per posting in 2022,” says NPR.
Many young people leave colleges with degrees in white-collar industries like computer science, finance, information technology, and business—jobs that have been uniquely vulnerable in recent months as tech companies like Amazon and Google have laid off significant portions of their workforce.
“For a long time, our society has not talked favorably about the skilled trades. We’ve instead encouraged students to all go to college, all go to four-year institutions, graduate, go out into white collar jobs,” says Handshake strategy officer Christine Cruzvergara.