“If Wal-Mart is an example of the type of job that the blue-collar man should be grateful to have, things don’t look good for the future.”
Over the past 40 years, a time in which U.S. GDP has more than doubled (after adjusting for inflation), the annual income of the “blue-collar” man has fallen by 28 percent according to the researchers at Brookings.
The blue collar, middle class worker now earns about the same as their counterparts in the 1950’s, and three times as many of them don’t work at all.
Our current situation
I don’t need to tell you how hard it is to survive as a workingman these days. Everything from food to healthcare costs has skyrocketed, and you have less income to pay the bills with.
“50 years ago, the largest employer was General Motors, where workers earned an equivalent of $50 per hour (in today’s money). Today, the largest employer — Wal-Mart — pays around $8 per hour” according to USA Today.
If Wal-Mart is an example of the type of job that the blue-collar man should be grateful to have, things don’t look good for the future.
Everyday we hear of another large company laying off thousands of workers or shipping jobs overseas. We have chalked this up to business taxes here in the United States—among other things. We have accepted that “this is our reality” but with company profits soaring, and CEO’s making billions millions of dollars, I ask why some of that hasn’t trickled down to the blue-collar, middle class man?
Today’s blue-collar man works hard but it’s an uphill battle.
Who’s looking out for us?
It’s no secret that union membership has been on the decline since 1954 when 34.8% of salaried worker belonged to a union, last year it was 11.3% according to Pew Research.
Wal-Mart, the nations largest employer, has notoriously stifled efforts from workers who want to unionize. The Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Wal-Mart violated Quebec labor laws when it closed a store after workers voted to unionized according to the New York Times.
No union? Large corporations that aren’t paying a living wage, but what about the government? Last year (2013) the government gave large corporations $176 billion dollars in corporate tax breaks according to the National Priorities Project. This number doesn’t reflect money saved by large corporations through tax loopholes and efforts to shield income overseas.
With representation declining, companies looking out for their profits over their employees, and a government that turns a blind eye, who is looking out for us? The answer is NO ONE.
We have to look at for each other and ourselves, or eventually the middle class will be phased out all together. If you want a better situation for yourself, here are three options to think about.
1. Go back to school
For the blue-collar man to get a good job these days, it’s probably going to require some sort of degree or special training. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 27 percent of jobs in the U.S. require at least an associate degree. We have seen a wave of men going back to school to get a degree or training in a skilled trade. If you’re tired of grinding it out in a job like Wal-Mart (for example), going back to school may be an option for you.
What I would strongly advise is don’t go into thousand of dollars in debt to do it. Student load debt has topped 1 trillion dollars according to the New York Times and with a over saturation of college educated workers (according to PBS), jobs AREN’T guaranteed.
2. Get a better job
27% of jobs require a degree, which means that 73% of jobs don’t. This is good news for the blue-collar man. You can research a job that you’re interested in, and put a place in place to land that job.
Starbucks attracted 7.6 million job applicants over the last 12 months for 65,000 jobs according to the Wall Street Journal. To stand out in today’s crowded job market, you have to be different and unique. Many large companies use keyword software to search applications for the skills they’re looking for.
If you’re going to try to get a better job, you have to do your homework about the company you’re applying at. Forbes offers 20 creative ways to stand out and get that job.
3. Start a business on the side
This is easier said than done in our recovering economy, but notice I didn’t say “impossible.” Some of the greatest businesses were started in down economies.
My advice is to start your business on the side and take advantage of the Internet. Right now there are 2.5 billion people online, if you were ever looking for a customer base to start a business, the Internet is a great place.
I have written about this before here on the Good Men Project:
There is something you are good at and passionate about, start your business from that thing.
If you’re a blue-collar worker you’ve probably already figured out that the large companies are not going to help you out, and the government is turning a blind eye. You have to do something on your own. The good news is that you can!
Too many men have accepted what they’ve been told and given, it has to stop. We’re destined for an incredible life, and since we spend 47 hours of our week at work, our work shouldn’t be something that takes away from that.
Don’t accept what’s been drilled into our heads by the system. Don’t accept complacency. Don’t give up until you do what too many people think is impossible. You can do it.
What have you experienced as a blue-collar working man?
Photo: Flickr/ Tymtoi