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Tradesmen Made America Great, and There’s More Work to be Done

Tradesmen Make America Great
Tradesmen Make America Great

Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Categories: Local Economy  |  History  |  Construction Industry

It’s no secret that the United States of America was built by the cracked and bleeding hands, strong backs, and aching muscles of brave and hardworking people who refused to relent, despite the massive obstacles. Leaders in the construction industry and workers in the skilled trades built the houses and buildings where we live and work; the streets, bridges and tunnels where we drive; the vast intercontinental railway that carries our products and supplies, and so much more.

Our nation’s infrastructure was carved out of the raw earth and stone by great tradesmen whose foresight and innovation developed the United States of America into the greatest country in the world.

Industrial tycoons invested in the trades that would shape America’s infrastructure while technological innovators revolutionized the skilled trades. A vast variety of skilled tradesmen contributed to the construction of massive and nearly-inconceivable iconic American structures that still stand and function today. The Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building, Hoover Dam, Gateway Arch, and many more were built by teams of highly-skilled tradesmen working together.

Many of these occupations are still promising and lucrative careers for men and women today including pipe fitters and plumbers, masons, electricians, mechanics, carpenters, welders, and more. Yet with the boom in American jobs created since the Trump administration took office (4 million-plus and counting), we are now faced with the previously unthinkable… there are more jobs available than there are workers to fill them. And, if a comprehensive infrastructure bill is passed through Congress as promised, that demand for American workers will soar even higher as we rebuild our aging roads, bridges, airports, and power grid.

female electrician 

Many never expected in our lifetimes that we would witness a booming job market again. In 1933 during the Great Depression unemployment was at a peak of 24.9 percent. Unemployment was more than 14 percent from 1931 to 1940. Unemployment remained in the single digits until 1982 when it reached 10.8 percent.

In May of 2018 the jobless rate touched an 18-year low, dipping to 3.8%. For the first time in at least 20 years, there are now more job openings than there are people looking for work. It’s a great problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. Especially in the skilled trades.

Yet today, High School students are lining up to get into Colleges and Universities, while largely ignoring skilled trade jobs that often pay more than college-degree jobs. While a shortage of blue-collar workers is pushing wages higher in the skilled trades, the financial return from a bachelor's degree is weakening. Additionally, most graduates immediately face loans in the tens-of-thousands of dollars before they ever apply for a job.

There are currently 30 million jobs in the United States that pay an average of $55,000 per year and do not require bachelor's degrees according to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.

It’s important that we keep the trade craft alive! The future prosperity of the United States depends on it. And we do this through educating and creating conversation with our youth. ‘Put down the phones and get eye-to-eye with them’ types of conversations. Yes, we also benefit as a nation from having a large population of individuals with college degrees who are working in their fields of study and contributing to society. Unfortunately, 66 percent of college graduates struggle to launch their careers, with only 27 percent being employed in jobs closely related to their fields of study According to the U.S. Department of Education.

College isn’t for everyone… and neither is trade work. But there are certainly enough high-paying trade jobs available right now to justify having the conversations and making the decision – if right for the individual – to jump in with both feet and get started making a good living while carrying on the legacy of the strong men and women who made America great. There's more work to be done!

Tagged:contractor, local economy, small business, employment, tradesmen, jobs

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