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February 15, 2024

Blue-collar hiring and pay gains stay hot in a cooling job market

Blue-collar hiring and wage gains have remained strong even as the overall job market has cooled in recent months. The data point to solid labor conditions for lower-wage workers, as pay increases keep pace with rising costs and employers work to attract and retain hard-to-find talent. In October, payrolls for goods-producing roles, which include construction and manufacturing jobs, grew by 73,000 after adding 28,000 slots in September, according to the Department of Labor. Wages rose 3.4%, the largest hike since September of 2017. Workers in the leisure and hospitality sector have also seen some of the largest gains. The industry added 42,000 workers in October and wages grew 3.6%, bolstering concerns of an even tighter labor market and wage growth that hasn’t kept pace with inflation, which hit 2.4% in September. The data suggest that even with the overall economic slowdown, many employers are still on the hunt for in-demand blue-collar workers, particularly in the trades and hospitality. Things are likely to become even tighter in the new year as job openings for blue-collar workers continue to exceed the available talent pool. As a result, employers are stepping up recruitment efforts, offering higher wages and other incentives to attract skilled workers.