The United States has seen a steady erosion of blue-collar work over the past several decades. We define blue-collar, working class jobs as those which primarily make use of physical skill or manual labor. These occupations include not only factory work or production occupations, but jobs in construction, materials moving, transportation, installation, and repair. Blue-collar, working class jobs currently account for 23 percent of all U.S. employment. Blue-collar occupations and the regions that specialize in this kind of work have seen the highest levels of unemployment and the greatest vulnerability to the economic crisis. The decline of high-paying, blue-collar jobs for lower-skilled workers has caused considerable concern that the U.S. is losing an important source of good, family-supporting jobs, and that the American labor market is becoming more uneven and increasingly split between higher-paying knowledge work and lower-paying routine service work. But what will the geography of blue-collar work look like in the future?
The map above shows the metros with the biggest projected gains in blue-collar work. Not surprisingly, the biggest metros top this list. The biggest gainer is Greater New York which is projected to gain 41,084 working-class jobs followed by Houston (32,249), Chicago (30,482), Los Angeles (28,811), Phoenix (23,957), Atlanta (22,754), Washington, D.C. (21,387), Dallas (19,315), Riverside (16,755), and Las Vegas (14,781).