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Blue collar work in the United States
Photo courtesy: Gary Padilla

By Joseph Rios

Gary Padilla understands the value of hard work. He started as an apprentice plumber in 1984 for Bell Plumbing & Heating, before he was hired at the City of Denver in 2005. He’s worked on construction projects that were both commercial and residential. He’s even worked on the American Orient Express, a train that carried around a half a million dollars’ worth of fairs on the line to get people to their destination.

Padilla joined the Infrastructure Projects Management team at Wastewater in 2012 as a Project Inspector. His job required him to work on different types of projects like ones that involved storm, sanitary, CIPP lining, water quality and concrete. On Aug. 13, he started a new role as the Senior Project Inspector for the Infrastructure Projects Management team.

“This (promotion) is more of a lead role with the other inspectors. It meant a lot to me to get a promotion. I was excited about it,” Padilla said.

Padilla is an example of a blue-collar worker, and it is a job field that is booming. According to the United States government, construction and manufacturing combined added 406,000 jobs for all of last year. Those jobs come from people who have specialty trades like plumbing and electrical work.

President Donald Trump promised that infrastructure would be a political priority, and if there is more spending on roads and bridges, then there should be more job openings for construction and manufacturing.

Infrastructure isn’t the only thing that will keep job openings for blue-collar workers. The United States housing market is supposed to continue to stay strong, and if that’s the case, then there will be even more of a demand for construction workers and makers of building materials.

The country is expected to have 3.5 million jobs needed in just manufacturing by 2025, but 57 percent of those jobs are expected to go unfilled. That is because industry executives believe that there is a negative perception of that type of work, and workers are more attracted to white-collar jobs.

Currently, nuclear power reactor operators are the highest paid blue-collar workers. Those individuals make an average wage of $94,350, and most of them are employed in places like Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. To work as a nuclear power reactor operator, one must have at least a high school diploma (or equivalent to one) and on-the-job training. Some places may require a license as well.

This Monday is Labor Day, a public holiday that honors the American labor movement and one that honors the contributions that workers have made to the success of the country. It is also the unofficial end of the summer.

Blue collar, white collar, we honor all workers in the name of hard work, this Labor Day.





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