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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Blue-Collar Worker Shortages: Navigating a Business Environment of Higher Labor Costs

The threat of labor shortages is more acute in blue-collar and low-pay services occupations than in more highly educated white-collar occupations, the exact opposite of the prevailing trends in recent decades. We expect that by the end of 2019, the labor market will be historically tight. Industries that employ large shares of blue-collar workers, such as agriculture, mining, utilities, construction, manufacturing, transportation, accommodation and food services, repair, maintenance, and personal care services, are strongly affected by rising wages and shrinking supply. While the labor white-collar market is also tight, wage growth for the 40 percent of workers in management, professional, and related occupations is slow to accelerate. Sales and office workers, most of whom do not have a bachelor’s degree, are in shorter supply than management and professional workers.

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Author
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Gad Levanon, Ph.D.

Chief Economist, North America
The Conference Board


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Frank Steemers

Associate Economist
The Conference Board